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Zagreb Film Festival 2008 Bomb Harvest

6th Zagreb Film Festival www.zagrebfilmfestival.com this year offered fantastic documentary program. Among 12 documentaries one of the documentary on Zagreb Film Festival 2008 especially attracted attention. It is a "Bomb Harvest" produced by Lemur Films Australia, established by the director/writer of film Kim Mordaunt and producer Sylvia Wilczyinski. Mourdaunt and Wilczynski have made award winning dramas and documentaries for ABC TV, SBS TV and Discovery. At the moment, they are developing feature film drama "Hitting the Bricks" of a similar subject.

 

Their documentary "Bomb Harvest" www.bombharvest.com by now won prestigious awards, and went very well with audience in Hollywood, no matter of the subject. During Vietnam War US government bombed Laos without any knowledge of public or relevant authority approval. Many people died. Today Laos is very poor country and there are still left over bombs from a secret air war in late 60s and 70s. US government dropped 2 million tones of bombs in 9 years, in order to stop the flow of troops and munitions from North to South Vietnam via Ho Chi Minh Trail. So would this make good headlines in US? Laos makes the most bombed country on earth and the problem is that up to third of bombs, didn’t gone off and are still buried there. Who gave this highly illegal, utterly immoral and upright incompetent decision? Well, this documentary is one practical documentary by Kim Mordaunt and entitles slow and hard working bomb clean up. According to Landmine Monitor, the research of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, US gave about $US3.2 million in 2005.


And during the Laos bombing, each year of Laos bombing cost the US more than $US1 billion.

The film is about the Big Bomb Training Project, funded by the US State Department but managed by the Swiss Federation for Mine Action and the British-based Mine Advisory Group. The film follows a children class from school blackboard to jungle bomb clean up. There are 500-pound bombs sticking out of idyllic green fields and water ponds today. Those children learn the most dangerous trade in Laos. How to handle untangle bomb and stay alive? Their teacher, Aussie called Laith Stevens learned bomb-clearing trade in the Australian Army. Mordaunt and his wife, producer Sylvia Wilczynski, followed him and his team on a series of expeditions, mostly in the southern provinces, to remote villages where the bombs are close to the surface. Every day the dealers come from Vietnam to buy whatever the villagers bring in from the forest as metal scraps. A big bomb can be worth up to $US20, which is a small fortune for starving village children. Just imagine what a child looks like after one of these things goes off, well, and I can tell you one thing, this film will enlighten you.

 

Well I guess this is an eye-opening documentary and this small little country Laos has never recovered from the "secret war" of United States in the 1960s. And a complete intact bomb case, they're told, might feed one family for two or three months. Still there are enough bombs left on the ground to keep Aussy Stevens going for the rest of his life. Despite grisly and potentially depressing subject in the film, "Bomb Harvest" is an entertaining documentary. Following the work of expatriate Australian bomb disposal expert Leith Stephens, the movie conveys its messages subtly enough to provoke all the feelings necessary. The film is moving, frustrating, and quite often funny. Stephens is a wonderful character and really good model for future feature film. He is empathetic with the locals and has a good old Aussy dark sense of humor. "Bomb Harvest" is a thoroughly entertaining Australian documentary and was very well received with Australian audience.

 

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