Media: Clamor 19-November-2005

Review: Clamor Magazine, Issue 34 - Sep/Oct. 2005, p. 70

Disarm by Next Step Productions, 2005

Welcome to the Devil's Garden.
This ominous nickname belongs to the Shomali Valley north of Kabul, where a small city of landmines waits under the dirt, waiting for an unsuspecting foot to land. As I watched footage of the Devil's Garden in Disarm, I expected a Western activist to lecture the camera on the dangers of antipersonnel landmines. Instead, a Northern Alliance commander described how best to plant landmines, and why he had planted so many.

Disarm isn't narrated by Robert Redford or peppered with liberal talking heads. Statistics apppear sparingly. The few Westerners we meet appear on screen to tie the story together, not to create the story. Leave that to the residents of Iraq, Colombia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Burma-people who live with landmines in their backyards. Like the deminer working a field in Bosnia that gives the film an ironic twist. "It's the nature of the job that at one point you come across a mine to demine it, and you planted it yourself," he said. Or the Burmese man's horrified expression we see while villagers "trimmed" strips of skin from his recently shredded leg. Prepare to emphasize with these men, because Disarm is more than an anti-landmine brochure. Mary Wareham, the executive director and producer, has been a landmine expert Watch since 1998, and founded Next Step Productions in 2003 to launch Disarm. She seems to know there is more to demining than signing a treaty.

Beyond the stories we hear is the story we see. Shot in 2003 and 2004, the cinematography is stunning, and there was enough silence between the sentences to let me tune into a panoramic shot of lunar Afghanistan from a helicopter's vantage. Just as I grew accustomed to the sandy hills above Kabul, aan aerial shot of lush Colombia appeared and suddently, the world turned green. The seamless transition linked the War in Afghanistan to Colombia's 30-year old civil war in a way that words couldn't. Brian Liu held the creative reins, and his photojournalism experience gives Disarm a disarming feel.

Watch this 60-minute film. Well, if you can - the filmmakers hasn't found a distributor by press time. Search film fests for Disarm, spread the word, and follow the release at

By Kaci Elder, Clamor Magazine -