NEW YORK — The film “Worth” takes a look at the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund through the eyes of renowned mediator Kenneth Feinberg, played by Michael Keaton.
Feinberg had to figure out how much life is worth to fulfill his duties. Keaton said he knew almost nothing about the full story.
“I’ve read a lot of newspapers, I've watched a lot of news,” said Keaton. “I was aware of a compensation plan, but I had no clue how complex this was.”
The fund was set up to allocate money to those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attack. Congress appointed Feinberg to get as many families to opt into the program and not sue the government. The film is based on Feinberg’s book - “What is Life Worth” and that’s what he had to figure out in real life.
“Everyone remembers the emotion you know,” Keaton said. “But we don't all, I don't think, think about, how's this going to be handled? How do you figure that out?”
Keaton remembers where and what he was doing on that fateful day in September.
“I was in my kitchen and I'm just kind of opening the fridge and then make some coffee and slipped on, I think, CNN,” Keaton said. “I kind of see this thing and kind of try to figure out what I'm watching because it didn't look like anything real. We were watching it as it was occurring - my jaw hit the floor.”
The film “Worth” premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival where Feinberg told NY1’s George Whipple about his experience and how being a lawyer fit into the process.
“Being a lawyer was a wash,” said Feinberg. “It was not a help or a hindrance. Better a degree in divinity or a degree in psychiatry, you were dealing with very vulnerable people who lost loved ones or was terribly injured. And what you needed more than anything I found and the movie reflects this empathy.”
Keaton remembers his time getting to know Feinberg.
“I spent a lot of time with him. He's great to be around, by the way, just really open and giving guy and really articulate. Just even to talk with him about other things is great fun. But just sharp as can be and was extraordinarily helpful. There's no way of getting around it. For me to play someone like this, you have to pump them for information.”
“Worth” is streaming now on Netflix.