An Expose of the Massive Greed and Corruption of the Global Arms Trade
(San Francisco, CA) — From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair, Shadow World reveals the shocking realities of the global arms trade, the only business that counts its profits in billions and its losses in human lives. Directed by Johan Grimonprez (dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y), the film is based on The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, the acclaimed book by Andrew Feinstein. Shadow World explores how governments, their militaries and intelligence agencies, defense contractors, arms dealers and agents are inextricably intertwined with the international trade in weapons, and how that trade fosters corruption, determines economic and foreign policies, undermines democracies and creates human suffering. Shadow World premieres on Independent Lens Monday, November 20, 2017, 9:30-11:00 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.
Through the insights of whistleblowers, investigators, prosecutors, journalists, military and industry insiders, Shadow World unravels a number of the world’s largest and most corrupt arms deals. It illustrates how the global arms trade operates in a parallel legal universe, in which the national security elite who drive it are seldom prosecuted for their often-illegal actions. Ultimately the film reveals the real costs of war, the way the arms trade drives it, and how a defense industry that is supposed to enhance security instead gives us the exact opposite: a more dangerous world. “I came to realize that corruption is not a dirty little side effect of the arms trade, but is, in fact, its defining factor,” said Grimonprez. “Even more crucial is how it is entangled in driving foreign policy, and how it actually sets the stage for war.”
"Shadow World shows us the business of war and puts a human face on who profits from that business,” said Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Executive Producer. “Around the world taxpayers fund the defense industry. As we come to terms regarding what we want our government to do with that money, Shadow World asks if wars are being prolonged to generate more profits for a few, no matter the human cost.”
Shadow World features interviews with Chris Hedges, former New York Times war correspondent; Franklin C. Spinney, former Pentagon military analyst; Cynthia McKinney, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives; Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell; and Wesley Clark, U.S. Army (retired), Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (1997-2000), among others.
Visit the Shadow World page on Independent Lens, which features more information about the film. Shadow World will be available for online viewing on the site beginning November 21, 2017.
About the Filmmakers
Johan Grimonprez (Director) is a Belgian artist and filmmaker who achieved international acclaim for his documentary film dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1997), a collaboration with author Don DeLillo that tells the story of air hijackings since the 1970s and how these changed news reporting. With its premiere at Centre Pompidou and Documenta X in Kassel, Germany, in 1997, the film eerily foreshadowed the events of September 11, and analyzed compellingly how the media participates in the construction of our perceived reality. In 2009, Grimonprez made Double Take, which targets the global rise of ‘fear-as-commodity.’ It premiered at Sundance and Berlin, and traveled the international film festival circuit, winning several Best Director awards, the Black Pearl Award in Abu Dhabi, and the New Media Grand Prize in LA. His film and curatorial projects have been exhibited at museums worldwide, including the Hammer Museum (LA), Pinakothek der Moderne (Munich), and MoMA (NY). His works are part of the permanent collections of numerous major museums, including the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), the Kanazawa Art Museum (Japan) and Tate Modern (London). In 2011, Hatje Cantz Verlag published a reader on his work entitled “It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards” with contributions by Jodi Dean, Thomas Elsaesser, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Slavoj Žižek. Grimonprez divides his time between Brussels and New York, where he now lectures at the School of Visual Arts. In 2012, Cinema Scope named him one of the “Best 50 Filmmakers Under 50” in the world.
Andrew Feinstein (Author, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade) is a former ANC Member of Parliament from South Africa where he served under Nelson Mandela. Feinstein resigned from Parliament when Mandela’s successor as president stopped him from investigating a massive, corrupt arms deal that benefited the ANC and a number of its senior leaders. Feinstein wrote After the Party, a best-selling book, about the deal and its corrosive impact on South Africa’s “rainbow nation.” Since then he has worked with arms trade-related investigators around the world, including in the US and the UK. The Shadow World was published in November 2011 to global acclaim. The book is based on both public information and investigation archives never before available in the public domain and on interaction with protagonists in the trade, including arms dealers being interviewed for the first time, whistleblowers, investigators, prosecutors, and industry insiders. The Shadow World was short-listed for the Alan Paton Prize for Non-fiction.
Feinstein is the founding Director of Corruption Watch UK, a London-based anti-corruption nonprofit that details and exposes instances of corruption and its impact on democracy, human rights, and development across the world. He regularly provides commentary on corruption and the arms trade for the BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera, amongst others. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, the Huffington Post, Salon.com, and many others. His article on “Corruption and the Arms Trade” introduced the 2011 Sipri Yearbook (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), the gold standard of arms trade research. He co-wrote “Through the Barrel of a Gun: Can Information from the Global Arms Trade Contribute to Genocide Prevention?,” a chapter on the arms trade in the 2014 Oxford Handbook on Organised Crime; a chapter in Reconstructing Atrocity Prevention (2015); and “Activism and the Arms Trade: Exposing the Shadow World” in Advocacy in Conflict: Critical Perspectives on Transnational Activism (2015). His work most recently appears in Indefensible: Seven Myths That Sustain the Global Arms Trade (2017).
Feinstein has been cited as one of Action on Armed Violence’s (AOAV) “Top 100: The most influential people in armed violence reduction.” He has been an Open Society International Fellow, a writing Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Writers Centre, and was voted one of South Africa’s anti-corruption heroes of 2014. He was educated at King’s College Cambridge, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Cape Town. He has also spent time at the London School of Economics as a Distinguished Visitors Program.
Directed by Johan Grimonprez
Based on the book The Shadow World by Andrew Feinstein
Stories Written and Read by Eduardo Galeano
Director of Photography Edited by Nicole Mackinlay Hahn
Edited by Per K. Kirkegaard, Pedro Collantes de Terans Bayonas, and Dieter Diependaele
Story by Johan Grimonprez, and Andrew Feinstein
Original Music by Produced by Karsten Fundal
Produced by Joslyn Barnes, and Anadil Hossain
Co-Producers Signe Byrge Sørensen, and Emmy Oost
Executive Producers Abigail Disney, Danny Glover, Driss Benyaklef, Sally Jo Fifer, and Lois Vossen
Co-Executive Producers Michael J. Zak, Jodie Evans, Matthew Palevsky, and Susan Rockefeller
Shadow World is a Dillywood and Louverture Films Production, co-produced by Onomatopee Films and Final Cut for Real in association with Fork Films and Zap-O-Matik.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 PM. The acclaimed series, with Lois Vossen as executive producer, features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by ITVS, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more visit pbs.org/independentlens. Join the conversation: facebook.com/independentlens and on Twitter @IndependentLens.