Media: New Zealand 22-March-2006

Disarm opens in New Zealand this month as part of a touring festival of films called World Cinema Showcase. Neither Brian Liu nor "Kiwi" Mary Wareham are there for this important premiere, but Mary has done several media interviews promoting the film including one with with Eva Radich on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon program (10.08am, Weds. 22 March). Other stories are appearing in Citymix (Auckland), the Wellingtonian, Army News (see below) and the Listener.

Army News (New Zealand)

"Disarm" Reviewed by Major Martin Donoghue

Graphic scenes, offensive language and violence may attract viewers to this documentary; it has it all, although with a chilling twist. Mary Wareham’s first short film ‘Disarm’ spans a dozen countries and provides a unique and often gruesome insight into the effects anti personnel landmines have on victims and their communities. Most films of this genre gravitate towards heart wrenching music with a Michael Moore type actor espousing how bad the leaders of countries that have not signed up to the mine ban treaty are. This documentary avoids doing that through well-researched and poignant interviews with a variety of people living with the threat of landmines.

The documentary’s story takes the viewer through many of the countries that the NZDF has played an active role in including Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan the movie confronts a warlord who is now helping various government and non-government organisations clearing the very mines he laid. Disturbingly, he still rates them as an effective weapon. Clearing mines is a theme throughout the movie and for those in the NZDF who have been involved in mine clearing missions, this movie shows the reality of the painstaking task. Often described as “gardening” and about as interesting as watching paint dry, the documentary captures the essence of a deminers life. The real live footage highlights how tedious, arduous and dangerous, the task of demining really is.

There is coverage of a variety of conferences in which government representatives from both sides of the anti personnel landmine spectrum debate whether the mine ban treaty is relevant for them. It is interesting that those countries that argue to keep anti personnel landmines cannot logically argue their case when given the chance to do so. The basic tenants of obstacle design – the obstacle, fires (either direct or indirect) and observation does not appear to be fully understood by those supporting the use of anti personnel landmines, therefore their arguments for keeping them in their weapon inventories are tenuous at best.

This documentary is more than just a walk through issues and countries that are affected by landmines. It is a story that is made more compelling by the people Mary Wareham has chosen to interview. Beyond the story are some challenging issues for all military forces: how, in the future, will we manage the consequences of the weapons we use that pose a threat to the civilian population post conflict?; how do we ensure that any humanitarian aid that we are providing is relevant and appropriate for the communities we are providing it to?; given the NZDFs extensive involvement with the landmine issue since the late 1980’s, what future role in mine action is there for us?

New Zealanders have played an active role in all facets of mine action and therefore it will come as no surprise that Mary Wareham is a kiwi. Disarm will appeal to many members of the NZDF for its thought-provoking portrayal of a “simple” weapon which has multiple layers of unintended, devastating effects. Certainly recommended viewing.