Films about military
On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a former soldier deeply influenced by the literature and ideas of the radical right, parked a truck with a five-ton fertiliser bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City. Moments later, 168 people were killed and 675 were injured in the blast. Oklahoma City traces the events that led McVeigh to that day from the perspective of the survivors, first-responders, investigators, and journalists who covered the events. The film provides an exploration of the convergence of various conservative religious movements and white supremacist militias that rose to prominence in the early 1990s, and were catalysed by the actions of government during that time.
Do Not Resist documents, from the perspective of the police, their view of the social unrest following the shooting and killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, 2014, against a backdrop of the routine and escalating use of military tactics and high-powered weaponry by local police forces throughout the United States in the past two decades. Military equipment deployed throughout the Middle East returns home to be used against the citizenry. Local police recruitment and training is awash in military commandments backed by views of escalating ‘righteous’ violence and sadism. Meanwhile curfews are imposed, along with frivolous drug raids and incessant racial profiling. The voices of concerned citizens ignored. What is the cultural and technological trajectory here?
The Coming War on China is a warning that nuclear war is not only imaginable, but a ‘contingency,’ says the Pentagon. The greatest build-up of NATO military forces since the Second World War is under way on the western borders of Russia, and some 400 American military bases encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. But these happenings are of course not reported as United States antagonism. Instead, there is a familiar drumbeat of war, the kind of the old “yellow peril,” a restoration of the psychology of fear that embedded public consciousness for most of the 20th century. The aim of this film is to break the silence, and as the centenaries of the First World War presently remind us, horrific conflict can begin all too easily. By recounting the secret and forgotten history of the rapacious actions of great power against China throughout the decades, such as the destruction of the Marshall Islands and the Opium wars, The Coming War on China is also a report of an inspiring popular resistance to nuclear weapons, military bases and warmongering of the United States, of which little is known in the West.
HyperNormalisation wades through the culmination of forces that have driven this culture into mass uncertainty, confusion, spectacle and simulation. Where events keep happening that seem crazy, inexplicable and out of control—from Donald Trump to Brexit, to the War in Syria, mass immigration, extreme disparity in wealth, and increasing bomb attacks in the West—this film shows a basis to not only why these chaotic events are happening, but also why we, as well as those in power, may not understand them. We have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. And because it is reflected all around us, ubiquitous, we accept it as normal. This epic narrative of how we got here spans over 40 years, with an extraordinary cast of characters—the Assad dynasty, Donald Trump, Henry Kissinger, Patti Smith, early performance artists in New York, President Putin, Japanese gangsters, suicide bombers, Colonel Gaddafi and the Internet. HyperNormalisation weaves these historical narratives back together to show how today’s fake and hollow world was created and is sustained. This shows that a new kind of resistance must be imagined and actioned, as well as an unprecedented reawakening in a time where it matters like never before.
National Bird: Drone Wars is the story of the United States’ secret program for drone strikes, conducted all around the world, told through three military whistle-blowers plagued by guilt over participating in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries. They decide to speak out publicly, despite the possible consequences. Their stories take dramatic turns, leading one of the protagonists to Afghanistan where she learns about a horrendous incident, but her journey also provides for peace and redemption. National Bird provides an insight into the United States’ secret drone program through the eyes of participants, veterans, and survivors, connecting their stories to images.
As the United States developed the world’s first nuclear weapons in secret, it was surprised at the speed in which the USSR was able to also develop such weapons, and that such developments would lead to an unprecedented arms race. The USSR was able to obtain all the nuclear discoveries made by scientists who worked on the top-secret Manhattan Project through a very unusual spy, Elizabeth Zaroubin. She managed to gain the trust of great researchers, such as Einstein, in a story comparable to some of the best spy novels ever written.
For the past 15 years, the misnomer “War on Terror” has been used by the United States to justify everything from mass surveillance and spying on its own citizens, to the use of secret drone strikes to kill people without trial or sometimes even evidence. Governments have always applied surveillance to those they consider a political threat, but the scale of the clandestine PRISM programme, which collects the data of billions of innocent people all across the globe, is unprecedented. Likewise is the call for the journalists who published the documents revealing the PRISM programme to be prosecuted. In the wake of relations about sustained, systematic abuses of power, it is apparent that in many areas, the United States operates on spurious interpretations of law, often explained in confidential memos, hidden from the public. Other times, the law is disregarded entirely. So what does this mean for resistance? How can citizen rights be reconciled with a rogue state security apparatus?
In the wake of the September 11th attacks, amongst the ravaging of war, the United States has been secretly deploying drones to carry out assassinations throughout the Middle East. The drones are increasingly piloted by the likes of young computer gamers groomed by screen culture and computer games of war, where in many cases, the Pentagon is directly involved in the creation of such games as recruitment tools, actively working to lure young people proficient with technology into the new era of the military-industrial-complex. Drone unravels this complex phenomenon while travelling to places such as Waziristan, where innocent civilians, including children and rescue workers are routinely secretly killed, where families and communities ravaged by the drone strikes search for understanding, accountability and adjustment to the daily horrors. The film also takes a look at the young people sitting behind the screens of the new war machines, half a world away, that actually pull the trigger, asking what kind of world is being built in the rise of seemingly endless and lucrative war driven by technological escalation.
Dirty Wars follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill into the hidden world of the United States’ covert wars and assassination programmes—from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia, and beyond. What begins as a relatively commonplace report on the cover-up of a murderous US night raid in a remote corner of Afghanistan, quickly turns into a global investigation of the secretive and powerful Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)—a top secret arm of the Military-Industrial-Intelligence Complex. As Scahill digs deeper into the activities of JSOC, he is compelled to report on the growing chilling underworld of covert operations carried out across the globe at the behest of the United States government: Targeted killings of American citizens; secret drone strikes; outsourcing American kill lists to warlords, private corporations and paramilitaries. The list goes on. Dirty Wars is a sobering investigation and personal journey into the most important human rights story of our time.
For many years, there has been widespread speculation, but very little consensus, about the relationship between violent video games and violence in the real world. Joystick Warriors draws on the insights of media scholars, military analysts, combat veterans, and gamers themselves, to examine the latest research on the issue. By setting its sights on the wildly popular genre of first-person shooter games, Joystick Warriors exploring how the immersive experience these games offer link up with the larger stories this culture tells about violence, militarism, guns, and manhood. It also examines the gaming industry’s longstanding working relationship with the United States military and the arms industry, showing how the games themselves work to sanitise, glamorise, and normalise violence while cultivating regressive attitudes and ideas about masculinity and militarism.
The Kill Team profiles four young American men, who referred to themselves as the “Kill Team,” that carried out a string of war crimes in 2010, during the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, systematically murdering Afghan citizens. The film focuses on Private Adam Winfield who attempted, with the help of his father, to alert the military to the murders his platoon was committing. His pleas went unheeded. Faced with threats to his life from superior officers and other members of the military, Winfield makes a split-second decision that changes his life forever. The Kill Team follows Winfield and his family through the wartime events and legal proceedings that follow, interspersed with interviews of the other soldiers involved, and video footage from Afghanistan, revealing first-hand revelations of a war culture rooted in hatred, social pressure, and sociopathy.
Less than three years after a popular uprising that led to President Hosni Mubarak’s ousting, and just one year after Egypt’s first elections, the elected government has been overthrown and the Egyptian military is running the state. And the Muslim Brotherhood—the secretive, long-outlawed Islamist group that came out of the shadows to win the presidency in June 2012—is once again being ‘driven underground.’ Were the Brothers ever really in charge? Or was the Egyptian deep state—the embedded remnants of Mubarak’s police force, Supreme Court and, most of all, military—in control all along? In Egypt in Crisis, we go inside the Egyptian revolution, tracing how what began as a youth movement to topple a dictator evolved into an opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood to seemingly find the political foothold it had sought for decades—and then why it all fell apart. With Egypt’s hopes for democracy in tatters, and the military-led government violently cracking down, what will happen next?
Over the past decade, the United States military has shifted the way it fights its wars, deploying more technological systems in the battlefield than human forces. Today there are more than 7,000 drones and 12,000 ground robots in use by all branches of the military. These systems mean less deaths for US troops, but increased killings and precision elsewhere for the United States war machine. With lethal drone strikes being carried out in secret by the CIA and occurring outside of officially declared war zones such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the secret use of robots and drones in this way evokes serious questions about the operations of the United States and what this means for the rest of the world as more and more autonomy is developed for these technologies.
When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, the gangsters Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry were promoted from selling black market movie theatre tickets to leading the most powerful death squad in North Sumatra. In The Act of Killing Anwar and his cohorts recount and gruesomely re-enact their experiences and some of their killings for the cameras, making horrific scenes depicting their memories and feelings about the killings. But as they begin to dramatise Anwar’s own nightmares, the scenes begin to take over as artforms, leading to confrontations of memories of historical reality. Can the horrific imagination succumb to moral catastrophe in this case? And if sociopaths are not reachable people anymore, the question becomes what we must do to stop them.
With the United Nations laying out a deadline for 2013 on claims to the Arctic seabed to be exploited for oil, minerals and gas; countries such as Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway and Greenland are all attempting to stake a claim. As the beginning battle for territory intensifies, the rapid disappearance of the Polar ice caps opens up potential shipping routes, which further fuels the blood lust by those in power to exploit the region. The Battle For The Arctic heads to the Far North to see first-hand who and what is threatened, and exactly what is at stake with these final grabs for energy, territory, and power.
Just as mobile phones and wireless capability dramatically changed the way technology interacts with modern society, drones—or ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’—are set to become the next major influence in technocratic life, directly impacting and seriously expanding the already extensive capabilities of surveillance. Rise Of The Machines takes a look at already developed drone technology and how governments, military and even civilians are rushing to adopt the gadgets which can be purchased off the shelf for just a few hundred dollars and controlled by already existing smart phones. So what will a world of drones look like? And what of the many, serious, unexplored implications on how society will function in a world of drones?
The Power Principle is a series of films examining the history of the United States and the building of its empire with particular emphasis on the last seventy years of United States foreign policy. The methods that make empire possible are also examined—the politics of fear, the rise of public relations, the ‘Mafia Principle’ and the reoccurring use of fabled enemies, contrasting the Soviet Union and the Cold War alongside the parallels of today with the “War On Terror”. Not only does The Power Principle tie together historical events to revive a common thread, the series may also encourage viewers to reconsider their understanding of historical events and the portrayal of them, showing how those in power play a role in manipulating the collective memory through generations.
Robot Wars visits companies in the United States that are producing robots for the military to disarm bombs, fly unmanned aircraft (drones), withstand repeated attacks and even choose targets and fire without any human intervention. The rapid development of autonomous robots and the use of them right now is surging ahead at a crazy rate, all with little regard to ethical and psychological questions, concerns about technological privilege and other obvious impacts. With military robots currently being operated using video game controllers, is the line being blurred between fantasy and reality?
The latest in the string of controversies as part of the United States’ ongoing “war on terror”, is the military’s growing reliance on “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” otherwise known as ‘drones’, evidenced by the international reaction to recent drone missile attacks along the border in Pakistan. The military is also deploying other technological advancements alongside, such as robots in the battlefield and drones that work in swarms. Is this just a big computer game? A new tech-driven arms race? It doesn’t end there though — drones are now creeping into use by police and the intelligence services as a surveillance tool, and even into commercial and civilian use…
In January 2012, two controversial pieces of legislation were making their way through the United States Congress. SOPA, the “Stop Online Piracy Act”, and PIPA, the “Protect Intellectual Property Act”, were meant to ‘crack down’ on the illegal sharing of digital media. The laws were drafted on request of the ‘content industry’ — Hollywood studios and major record labels. But websites reacted against the government to speak out against SOPA, and the bill was effectively killed off after the largest online ‘protest’ in history. But it was only one win in a long battle between authorities and online users over Internet regulation. SOPA and PIPA were just the latest in a long line of ‘anti-piracy’ legislation that governments have been pressing since the 1990s. Can and should the internet be controlled? Who gets that power? How far will the United States government go to control the Internet?
How does the military train the solider of tomorrow? Video games. The most popular games are those that replicate as close as possible the war events as seen on the news. Such games now far outpace the biggest Hollywood blockbuster movies, popular music, and best-selling books, combined. What does this complete immersion in high-tech war mean for our political culture? As well as those directly affected by state violence? What does it mean when the technological sophistication of modern militarism become forms of mass entertainment? Returning Fire profiles three artists and activists that decided these questions needed to be answered. We see how Anne-Marie Schleiner, Wafaa Bilal, and Joseph Delappe moved dissent from the streets to the screens, infiltrating war games in an attempt to break their hypnotic spell. The results ask all of us—gamers and non-gamers alike—to think critically about what it means when drones and remote warfare become computer games and visa versa. Can we reflect on our capacity to empathise with people directly affected by the trauma of real war?
In the weeks after the September 11th attacks in the United States in 2001, envelopes carrying Anthrax were delivered to government offices, network news divisions, and a tabloid newspaper throughout the country. Five people were killed, many more infected, and the nation was fearful. Seven years later, after mistakenly pursuing one suspect, the most expensive and complex investigation ever undertaken by the FBI ended when they identified army scientist Dr. Bruce Ivins as the sole perpetrator of the attacks—after Ivins had taken his own life. Now, new questions are being raised about the FBI’s investigative methods and whether Ivins really did it.
Reporters Jesper Huor and Bosse Lindquist travel to key countries where parts of the Wikileaks website operate to investigate some of the very few public faces behind the global Wikileaks network. Featuring interviews with co-founder Jullian Assange, spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson and others, WikiRebels asks: where is Wikileaks heading? Is it stronger than ever or being broken by the US or even on the inside? And who is Assange? A champion of freedom, a spy or a rapist? What are his objectives? And what are the consequences?
Initially, the Americans claimed that they were not recording casualty figures. George Bush stated that America would do its “utmost to avoid civilian casualties”. But now, details of the US Military themselves recording over 109,000 deaths have been released by Wikileaks — over 66,000 civilian deaths; 176,000 civilians and others wounded. Iraq’s Secret War Files reveals the true scale of civilian casualties, and examines evidence that after the “scandal” of Abu Ghraib, American soldiers continued to torture prisoners; and that US forces did not intervene in the torture and murder of detainees by Iraqi security services…
This film provides some insights into the plight of Omar Ahmed Khadr, a Canadian citizen, who was fifteen years old when he was taken by United States forces in Afghanistan in 2002 to be interrogated, tortured, and sent to Guantánamo Bay. Based on seven hours of CCTV footage recently conceded and declassified by Canadian courts, You Don’t Like The Truth offers a dark, yet officially-sanctioned view into the sadistic world of today’s intelligence agencies and the secret operations in the War-of-Terror.
We’ve been told again and again that sports and politics don’t mix, that games are just games and athletes should just “shut up and play.” But Not Just a Game argues that far from providing merely escapist entertainment, American sports have long been at the centre of some of the major political debates and struggles of our time. By tracing the good, the bad, and the ugly of American sports culture, Not Just a Game shows how American sports have glamorised militarism, racism, sexism, and homophobia; but also traces a largely forgotten history of rebel athletes who stood up to power and fought for social justice beyond the field of play.
By charting the history of the anti-war movement against the political backdrop of the atomic age, Beating The Bomb examines the current state of ‘nuclear deterrence’ brought about by the nuclear age stemming from the end of World War II, when the United States nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Specifically, the anti-nuclear movement and the founding of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958 amongst others, fight for and end to the British Nuclear Weapons program, which from its inception, was closely tied to The Manhattan Project and still is to this day…
War is hell, but for Hollywood it has been a god-send, providing the perfect dramatic setting against which courageous heroes win the hearts and minds of the movie going public. The Pentagon recognises the power of these celluloid dreams and encourages Hollywood to create heroic myths; to rewrite history to suit its own strategy and as a recruiting tool to provide a steady flow of willing young patriots for its wars…
The Guantanamo detention camp, “Gitmo”, covers forty five square miles of Cuba inside an area under a “permanent lease” to the United States. Since 2002, the base has become synonymous with its detainment of “suspected terrorists”. Although Barack Obama has given orders for the detention camp to be closed, the facilities remain open to this day. David Miller’s quiet, powerful film is the result of three days the film-maker spent touring the camps in May 2008 as part of a small group of media representatives allowed there. Although the event was presented as a chance to ‘see inside’ the working of Guantanamo, it was in fact a carefully staged PR exercise designed to yield predictable, stale and controlled media images…
By comparing the confluence of ideas about modifying behaviour using shock therapy and other forms of sensory deprivation (which culminated in the top-secret CIA project called MKULTRA during the 1950s) alongside the metaphor of similar shock treatment modifying national economics using the teachings of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of economics, The Shock Doctrine presents the workings of global capitalism in this framework of how the United States, along with other western countries, has exploited natural and human-engineered disasters across the globe to push through reforms and set-up other mechanisms that suit those in power and ‘shock’ other countries into a certain wanted behaviour. Chronologically, some historical examples are the using of Pinochet’s Chile, Argentina and its junta, Yeltsin’s Russia, and the invasion of Iraq. A trumped-up villain always provides distraction or rationalisation for the intervention of the United States—for example, the threat of Marxism, the Falklands, nuclear weapons, or terrorists—and further, is used by those in power as more justification for the great shift of money and power from the many into the hands of the few(er).
Pax Americana and the Weaponization of Space takes us to the Cold War and beyond, where an arms race of weapons technology plays out by the world’s superpowers in space. Satellites, nuclear weapons, tracking technologies, rockets—the weaponisation of space was and is more of the same colonialism in the tradition of empire, much like the sea battles of the 18th and 19th centuries. Indeed, as we learn through Operation Paperclip, the United States recruited than 1,600 scientists from Nazi Germany for work in the Space Race after the end of World War II. Fast forward to today, in the name of protecting commercial investment, the United States has crowned itself with being the so-called “arbiter of peace” in space. But with their weapons industry replacing almost all other manufacturing in America, this claim is ludicrous. More than fifty cents of every US tax dollar is spent on the military. The dream of the original Dr. Strangelove, Wernher von Braun—the Nazi rocket-scientist turned NASA director—has survived every US administration since World War II and is coming to life ever more rapidly. Today, space is largely weaponised, a massive military-industrial-complex thrives, and many nations are manoeuvring for advantage with yet more weapons of war, surveillance, and control.
In 1990, alarming evidence of NATO-sponsored terrorist attacks came to light. NATO’s secret “stay behind” armies that were set up across Western Europe after the Second World War were supposedly intended to help put together a resistance if the Soviet Union invaded. However, they went on to commit terrorist attacks against their own populations, so as to influence domestic politics. The forces still exist post-Cold War. This film is the shocking story of Operation Gladio—a tale of espionage, conspiracy and political violence carried out by the United States.
More than three million Vietnamese people still suffer the gruelling effects of chemical weapons used by the United States during the Vietnam War. American militaries doused forests, lands and waterways of Vietnam with the deadly chemicals Agent Orange, White, Blue, Pink, Green and Purple. Agent Orange in particular, which contains dioxin—the most toxic chemical ever known—has disabled countless people and generations of their offspring. This film weaves personal stories together with the stories of American GIs to lead to a great unravelling of the first-hand devastating and lethal effects of Agent Orange and war, generations later.
On 8th August 1945, the United States dropped its second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, three days after the bombing of Hiroshima. The city was a veritable apocalyptic vision, devastated by this new type of weapon. Nagasaki — The Horror Of Fat Man documents the memories of survivors, both Japanese civilians and Western Prisoners Of War, as they relate the morbid aftermath of the bombings, the United States occupation, and the segregation that still effects fallout victims to this day.
By risking torture and life in jail, courageous young citizens of Burma live the essence of journalism as they document the uprisings against the military regime in 2007. Armed with small handycams, the Burma VJs stop at nothing to make their reports from the streets of Rangoon. Their video footage is smuggled out of the country and broadcast back in via satellite and offered up for use in the international media. The whole world witnesses single event clips made by the VJs, but for the very first time, the individual images have been put together here to tell a much bigger story…
In 2004, during the invasion of Iraq, the public learned of systemic sexual abuse, torture, rape and even murder going on inside Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Photographs taken by the soldiers themselves were at the centre of the scandal, and seared public consciousness. Standard Operating Procedure sets out to examine the context of these photographs. Why were they taken? What was happening outside the frame? The Abu Ghraib photographs serve as both an expose and a coverup. An expose, because the photographs offer us a glimpse of the horror of Abu Ghraib; and a coverup because they convinced journalists and readers they had seen everything, that there was no need to look further…
Reaching into the Orwellian memory hole, War Made Easy exposes the some 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Using archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George Bush, this film reveals how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive governments — paying special attention to the parallels between the Vietnam war and the war in Iraq…
Set in Latin America and the US, War on Democracy explores the historic and current relationship of Washington with countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile. John Pilger examines the role of Washington in America’s manipulation of Latin America during the last 50 years leading up to the struggle by ordinary people to free themselves from poverty and racism…
This documentary looks at the erosion of civil liberties and increase in government surveillance since 1997 in the UK with the advent of “New Labour” and Tony Blair. Modern politicians, regardless of left or right, always seem to promise hope and change, but what is delivered is more of the same. To illustrate this, the film tracks 6 key areas that have been rapidly dismantled in so-called democracies over the last few decades: Freedom of speech; the right to assemble and protest; the presumption of innocence; the right to privacy; detention without charge, the prohibition on torture…
Taxi To The Dark Side examines America’s policy on torture and interrogation in general, specifically the CIA’s use of torture and their research into sensory deprivation. There is description of the opposition to the use of torture from its political and military opponents, as well as the defence of such methods; the attempts by Congress to uphold the standards of the Geneva Convention forbidding torture; and the popularisation of the use of torture techniques in American television shows…