Agent Orange was the codename for one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the United States military as part of its chemical warfare program—Operation Ranch Hand—which ran for ten years during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. During this time, the military sprayed nearly 80,000,000 litres of toxic chemical and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia. The supposed goal being to destroy forested and rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover and to induce forced-draft-urbanisation, destroying the ability of peasants to support themselves, forcing them to flee to the cities dominated by US forces, depriving the guerrillas of their rural support base and food supply…
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.
American Radical is a film about the life of academic Norman Finkelstein, a son of Holocaust survivors and ardent critic of Israel. Called a lunatic and self-hating Jew by some, and an inspirational figure by others, American Radical also serves to explore the issues at the centre of Palestine and Israel as Finkelstein travels around the world negotiating a voice of realism among impassioned critics and Israeli supporters. Uncompromising, even in the face of a denial of tenure at DePaul University, Finkelstein is revealed as a rare academic figure who puts the pursuit of justice above the security of his career, to expose the brutal reality of the occupation of Palestine.
Ammo for the Info Warrior is a two part series of collections of short films by the Guerrilla News Network (GNN), an independent news organisation with a mission to expose young people to important global news and information free from corporate filters. Each part consists of a selection of 5 to 10 minute videos covering a range of stories, from the violent diamond trade in Sierra Leone; to the PR industry’s manipulation of public opinion; to analysis of IBM and its role in the Holocaust; to CopWatch, a movement of people keeping police accountable; and short slam poetry clips about the business of hip-hop. Ammo for the Info Warrior experiments with format with the aim of being an innovative educational tool to tackle serious socio-political issues for a generation brought up on MTV. It can be a catalyst for discussion and debate, encouraging the viewer to develop skills in critical thinking and analysis.
An Act of Conscience documents the story of two couples Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner who refused to pay income tax throughout the 1980s in an act of defiance against military spending and war. The film captures the support community that formed in response to the seizure of their home by the IRS, and the conflict with the young couple with a newborn who bought the home at a government auction. Was this an effective protest?
The belief that good triumphs over evil resonates deeply through the religious and political discourses of dominant culture. It is also a common theme in the entertainment media where the struggle between good and evil is frequently resolved through violence. The negative impacts of media violence on children has long been a public concern, but it is even more troubling when military violence, both in the news and in entertainment, is often glorified as heroic and noble. Beyond Good & Evil: Children, Media & Violent Times is a look at how mass communication distorts and manipulates language and visual imagery. It shows viewers how the media’s overriding objective of satisfying an audience converts real issues surrounding race, war, and violence into nothing more than spectacle.
Department of Defense documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act expose horrific government funded experimentation upon citizens conducted without their knowledge or consent. Is the United States knowingly using a dangerous battlefield weapon banned by the United Nations because of its long-term effects on the local inhabitants and the environment? Beyond Treason explores the illegal worldwide sale and use of one of the deadliest weapons ever invented. Was “Gulf War Illness” actually known by the military before hand?
Bitter Lake explores how the realpolitik of the West has converged on a mirror image of itself throughout the Middle-East over the past decades, and how the story of this has become so obfuscating and simplified that we, the public, have been left in a bewildered and confused state. The narrative traverses the United States, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia—but the country at the centre of reflection is Afghanistan. Because Afghanistan is the place that has confronted political figureheads across the West with the truth of their delusions—that they cannot understand what is going on any longer inside the systems they have built which do not account for the real world. Bitter Lake sets out to reveal the forces that over the past thirty years, rose up and commandeered those political systems into subservience, to which, as we see now, the highly destructive stories told by those in power, are inexorably bound to. The stories are not only half-truths, but they have monumental consequences in the real world.
Modern society loves mobile phones — the selection between different models and gadgets has never been bigger. But the production of this technology has a hidden, dark, bloody side. The main minerals used to produce mobile phones are coming from the mines in the Eastern DR Congo. The Western World is buying these minerals up at a furious rate, financing a bloody civil war which, during the last 15 years, has cost the lives of more than 5 million people. Blood In The Mobile explains the connections between mobile phones and the civil war in the Congo, while technology corporations whitewash the issue to “supply and demand” and claim ignorance…
Between 1964 and 1973 the United States conducted a secret war in Laos — dropping over 2 million tons of bombs, making it the most heavily bombed country in history. Millions of ‘cluster bombs’ did not explode when dropped, leaving the country massively contaminated with “bombies” which are as dangerous now from when they fell over 30 years ago. Bombies documents unexploded cluster bombs through the personal experiences of a group of Laotians and foreigners who go about dismantling the bombs. These weapons are still a standard part of the United States military arsenal and were recently dropped in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq…
John Pilger travels to Cambodia to investigate how the United Nations has allowed the Khmer Rouge regime to grow stronger. Why has Pol Pot’s organisation grown stronger and more menacing since the arrival of the UN? Cambodia — Return To Year Zero looks behind the façade of the so-called ‘peace process’ and asks: Has the unthinkable for Cambodia at last been made acceptable for the rest of the world?
A secret illegal project from the 1950s, 60s and 70s called COINTELPRO, represents the state’s strategy to prevent resistance movements and communities from achieving their ends of racial justice, social equality and human rights. The program was mandated by the United States’ FBI, formally inscribing a conspiracy to destroy social movements, as well as mount institutionalised attacks against allies of such movements and other key organisations. Some of the goals were to disrupt, divide, and destroy movements, as well as instilling paranoia, manipulation by surveillance, imprisonment, and even outright murder of key figures of movements and other people. Many of the government’s crimes are still unknown. Through interviews with activists who experienced these abuses first-hand, COINTELPRO 101 opens the door to understanding this history, with the intended audience being the generations that did not experience the social justice movements of the 60s and 70s; where illegal surveillance, disruption, and outright murder committed by the government was rampant and rapacious. This film stands to provide an educational introduction to a period of intense repression, to draw many relevant and important lessons for the present and the future of social justice.
Counter-Intelligence is a 5 part series that explores in-depth, the vast, sprawling and secret National Security State that operates throughout the United States—and indeed the world. The series examines the foundations of the Military-Industrial-Intelligence Complex, charting through to the myriad consequences in today’s world where secret intelligence organisations continue to hijack governments, manipulate elections and commit heinous crimes against humanity—all under the cloak of “National Security”. In the wake of the continued revelations of the NSA PRISM program, this series is now more important than ever to provide a solid historical context to the workings of the rapacious and ever-expanding National Security State…
Disarm travels a dozen countries to look at how—despite a global ban—millions of anti-personnel landmines continue to be used to claim victims daily in more than eighty countries. The forces challenging the achievement of a landmine-free world are predictable. As such, the film mixes the views of diplomats and governments against that of victims, de-miners, soldiers, campaigners and aid workers to explore the issues that both hinder and further the case against the use of landmines across the world.
In 1978, three years after the end of the Vietnam War, film-maker John Pilger travels back to Vietnam to find out what had happened under the new regime. Do You Remember Vietnam? recounts numerous personal stories: talks with a young tour guide at a war crimes museum who had been imprisoned in the infamous US tiger cages; a former North Vietnamese soldier into the underground base where he spent 20 years crawling through tunnels undetected; and views from the streets in Hanoi, where the largest single aerial bombardment in history took place.
In September 2005, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary elections in 35 years. Among the candidates was Malalai Joya, a courageous 27-year-old woman who had ignited outrage among hard-liners when she spoke out against corrupt warlords and criminals at the “Grand Council of tribal elders” in 2003. Enemies of Happiness is a revelatory portrait of this extraordinary freedom fighter and the way she connected with the people of Afghanistan. The film also serves as a snapshot of life and politics in war-torn Afghanistan from this time. As Joya rightly points out several Taliban warlords and wants them prosecuted for their crimes against the Afghan people, she is exposed to several death threats, and has been under constant protection. Can she overcome entrenched views and death threats to help bring democracy to Afghanistan?
Enemy Image overviews the history of the portrayal of war in television news from the perspective of the United States. The film starts with the coverage of Vietnam where reports happened with little supervision, control or interference. Following this, The Pentagon takes action to control access by journalists to battle areas in subsequent invasions—such as the Invasion of Grenada, where journalists were excluded completely—to the first Gulf War, where ‘news packages’ were provided directly from the military; to the embedded churnalism of the invasion of Iraq. Shown is the progressive tightening of control by the US military on the contact journalists have with soldiers and civilians in the war zone, in order that “never again will television raise the moral and political questions that face a people during war.”
This film comprehensively documents the use of chemical weapons—particularly the use of incendiary bombs—along with hordes of other horrific indiscriminate violence against civilians and children by the United States military in the city of Fallujah during the invasion of Iraq in November 2004. The cases portrayed involve the use of white phosphorus and other substances similar to napalm, such as Mark-77, which constitute clearly defined war crimes involving chemical weapons. Interviews with ex-military personnel involved in the Fallujah offensive back up the case for the use of such weapons by the United States, while reporters stationed in Iraq discuss the government’s attempts to suppress the news by covert means.
This film makes use of court documents, diplomatic cables and testimony by business figures themselves, as one case of many, in which corporations and indeed governments side with warlords, as good for business, in the endless pursuit of profit. The story revolves around the civil war of Liberia in the 1990s, with the seeds for exploitation and destruction having been planted a century before by the United States, when formally enslaved peoples in Liberia in-turn set up a society of racism, greed and exploitation, exacerbated by western economic powers. Years later, with the presence of Firestone corporation coming to Liberia to exploit vast plantations of rubber for control over the ‘market,’ the company unfolds as a considerable catalyst for systemic terror, being the forefront for pushing for profits at all costs amongst a brutal civil war; colluding with warlords and corrupt governments in pursuit of this ruthless end. Unfurling as a case study in these methods, this film documents the case that is not so unique but a story amongst many—particularly throughout the so-called third-world—where corporate might and globalisation have extreme consequences…
Ghosts of Rwanda marks the 10th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda—a state-sponsored massacre in which some 800,000 Rwandans were methodically hunted down and murdered, as the United Nations and other states refused to intervene. The film examines the social, political, and diplomatic failures that converged to enable the genocide to occur. Through interviews with key government officials, diplomats, soldiers, and survivors of the slaughter, Ghosts of Rwanda presents first-hand accounts of the genocide from those who lived it—the diplomats on the scene who thought they were building peace only to see their colleagues murdered; the Tutsi survivors who recount the horror of seeing their friends and family slaughtered by Hutu friends and co-workers; and the UN peacekeepers in Rwanda who were ordered not to intervene in the massacre happening all around them.
From 1974, Hearts and Minds documents the events of the Vietnam War using news clips as well as directly captured footage showing actions and other happenings on the ground by the United States military during the war. The film also follows Vietnamese people themselves as to how the war affects them and why they fight back. Hearts And Minds reveals a racist and self-righteous militarism of the west, ironically in stark similarity to recent happenings in Iraq and elsewhere.
Heroes reports on the treatment of returning combat soldiers from Vietnam in the early 1980s. The film investigates the strange cultural absence of reverence or memory to soldiers returning home, and shows with first-hand accounts and interviews with returning soldiers, opines from the front line about America’s unpopular war.
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…
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.
The United States proudly self-identifies as the major purveyor of peace and democracy across the world. But does this perception of self match up to the actual policies and history of military actions throughout recent decades? Are the United States’ seemingly constant wars of aggression befitting to achieving peace? These are some of the central dichotomies addressed in this short film In Whose Interest? We see internal documentation of the US involvement in countries like Vietnam or Guatemala which indicate that the main factors motivating American foreign policy are clearly economic concerns. In Guatemala, the United States overthrows a democratically elected government to install a military-backed dictatorship that is suitable to the American United Fruit corporation. A similar pattern emerges in Vietnam, El Salvador and East Timor. Perhaps most oppressive yet is US policy in the Middle East, where the US provides Israel with more than $3 billion per year in military assistance—more aid than they give to the entire continent of Africa. We see how American policy is determined by the corporate sector, tightly linked to the state, which makes decisions in their own self-interest—in stark opposition to the rhetoric of democracy…
Militainment Inc. examines how news coverage of war in the United States has come to resemble Hollywood film, video games, and reality television in its portrayal of war as entertainment. Using a range of media examples—from news anchors’ idolatry of military machinery to the impact of government propaganda on war reporting—Militainment Inc. asks: How has war taken its place as a spectacle of entertainment? And how does presenting war as entertainment affect the ability of the population to evaluate the real human costs of this culture’s military-industrial-complex?
Mr Nixon’s Secret Legacy covers the absurdity of the supposed logic behind “Mutual Assured Destruction” or MAD—a doctrine of military strategy and the national security policy of the United States during the cold war. During this time, MAD is supposedly disassembled, but replaced with a strategy called “Counterforce.” This film investigates the propositions of “Counterforce,” questioning the rhetoric of executing a “flexible, acceptable nuclear war.”
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.
Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution is a short film about the Syrian struggle for freedom as experienced by a 32 year old rebel commander, Mowya; and a 24 year old female journalist, Nour; in Aleppo, Syria. The film shows why Syrians are fighting for their freedom, told through the emotional words of two powerful characters whose lives have been torn apart by war.
Obey is a video essay based on the book “Death of the Liberal Class” by author and journalist Chris Hedges. The film charts the rise of corporatocracy and examines the trending possible futures of obedience in a world of unfettered capitalism, globalisation, staggering inequality and environmental crisis — posing the question, do we resist or obey?
The Pentagon has a long tradition of cooperation with Hollywood. Movie studios can save millions of dollars and achieve spectacular success by securing use of military stock footage, military equipment, weapons and manpower. But the catch is that Hollywood must alter scripts, whitewash history, censor and present their films to display war and the military in a favourable way. As a consequence, mainstream commercial films become the best and most powerful, widespread propaganda…
In the aftermath of the events of September 11th, 2001; MIT linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky found himself called upon to provide much-needed analysis and historical perspective regarding this moment in American history. In the months following, Chomsky gave dozens of talks on four continents, conducted scores of media interviews, and published a book called ’9-11.’ In this film and in his book, Chomsky places the events of September 11 in the context of American foreign intervention throughout the postwar decades—in Vietnam, Central America, the Middle East, and elsewhere. Beginning with the fundamental principle that any exercise of violence against civilian populations is terrorism—regardless of whether the perpetrator is a well-organized band of Muslim extremists or the most powerful nation-state in the world—Chomsky challenges the United States to apply the moral standards it demands of others to its own actions.
How does the military train the solider of tomorrow? Video games. The most popular games are those that replicate the war events as seen on the news as close as possible. 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?
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?
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?
Sir! NO Sir! tells the story of how—from the very start of the war, such as with the Green Berets—there was resentment within the ranks over the difference between the war in Vietnam and (as persons state in the film) the “good wars” that their fathers had fought. In the beginning some simply left the military as individuals, though over time, it became apparent that so many were opposed to the war that they could speak of a movement — which over time eventually made the military almost inoperable…
Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields is an investigative two part series about the final weeks of the quarter-century-long civil war in Sri Lanka. The films are made and broadcast as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon faces growing criticism for refusing to launch an investigation into ‘credible allegations’ that Sri Lankan forces committed war crimes during the the bloody conflict with the rebel group, the Tamil Tigers. With disturbing and distressing descriptions and film of executions, atrocities and the shelling of civilians; the programmes show and investigate devastating video evidence of war crimes—some of the most horrific footage of war ever captured.
Subconscious War is a video essay exploring the influences of media and the culture of violence on reality, and the cultivation of collective values in society. The film contrasts the writings of Aldous Huxley and Neil Postman’s grim assessments; relating the concepts of works such as ‘Brave New World’ and ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ to the current cultural influences that foster today—corporate media and indeed media saturation, video games, television, and a pervasive technoculture, for example. What is being created? And what sort of people are being cultivated by this culture? Who benefits?
Located in Western Africa, Sierra Leone is a nation caught in a struggle between extreme poverty and extreme wealth. While diamond mining provides the bulk of the country’s income, most of its people struggle to survive by raising their own crops. In 1991, a rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front formed to take on government and corporate interests in a bid for a more just economy and an end to hunger. At first, the RUF was popular with Sierra Leoneans, many of whom resented the elite seen as corrupt and looked forward to the promises of free education, health care and equitable sharing of diamond revenues. However, as civil broke out, the RUF was brutal and developed a reputation internationally for its terrible cruelty towards civilians, and its widespread use of child soldiers. What ensued was bloody mayhem. Around 70,000 people lost their lives in the nearly 15 years of fighting, while millions lost their homes and many thousands were maimed. The Empire In Africa tells the story behind the brutality, and shines a light on the terrible bloodshed, with the view that future horrors may then end.