The terrible aftermath of dropping cluster bombs during the secret air war in Laos and the international campaign to ban them.
Directed by Jack Silberman
Produced by Lumiere Productions Inc. in association with CFCF-TV, Vision TV, Knowledge Network, and the Saskatchewan Communications Network, and with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Rogers Documentary Fund, and the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). "Bombies" is a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Between 1964 and 1973 the United States conducted a secret air war, dropping over 2 million tons of bombs and making tiny Laos the most heavily bombed country in history. Millions of these 'cluster bombs' did not explode when dropped, leaving the country massively contaminated with 'bombies' as dangerous now as when they fell 30 years ago.
"The United States' insistence on the use of cluster bombs, designed to kill or maim humans, is condemned almost universally and brings discredit on our nation. Even for the world's only superpower, the ends don't always justify the means." Former President Jimmy Carter
Bombies examines the problem of unexploded cluster bombs through the personal experiences of a group of Laotians and foreigners and argues for their elimination as a weapon of war. Unfortunately they are still a standard part of the US arsenal and were dropped in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2002
Copyright Date: 2001
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-159-2
VHS ISBN: 1-56029-915-0
"If you want to know what Afghanistan will be like in twenty years, watch Bombies. In a cohesive, well-documented approach, Bombies beautifully captures the history and effects of the U.S. carpet bombing in Laos...The fresh material, beautifully filmed, made us want to watch from start to finish again and again."
Jury Citation, San Francisco International Film Festival
"Bombies is not soft entertainment. It shows interviews with angry, impoverished Laotian villagers. It follows a seemingly endless trail of brightly-colored unexploded bombs -- a kind of perverse Easter egg hunt -- in bamboo trees, school playgrounds, rice paddies, under houses, everywhere...There is a final message in Bombies...It is that the story of cluster bombs has been replicated across the globe...in Kuwait, Iraq, the Falklands, Ethiopia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Chechnya, and Kosovo. Today, the United States is also using them in Afghanistan."
Tamara Straus, AlterNet.org
"What's worse than a nine-year secret war targeting millions of innocent civilians? This film documents the horrors Laotians face as, thirty years after the fact, US bombs continue to kill and maim the innocent."
Timothy McGettigan, Professor of Sociology, University of Southern Colorado
"Just when I thought I was immune to another surge of outrage, I watched the video BOMBIES, and succumbed to a wrench of emotion that left me tearful and determined to keep on doing whatever I can to counteract the inhumanity characterizing war in this century."
Wilson (Woody) Powell, National Administrator, Veterans for Peace
About the issue
"The most appalling episode of lawless cruelty in American history [is] the bombing of Laos."
Anthony Lewis, The New York Times
Awards and Festivals
Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival
Gold Plaque, Chicago International Television Awards
Best of Festival and Best of Category, Vermont International Film Festival
Special Prize for Environmental Education, Ökomedia Festival, Freiburg
The Japan Prize, Adult Division
Best of Festival, Western Psychological Association Film Festival
First Place in Category, EarthVision Environmental Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film Festival
Nominated for Best Social Documentary, Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival
Double Take Documentary Film Festival
Visual Anthropology Film/Video Festival, American Anthropological Association Conference
United Nations Association Film Festival, Stanford
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Global Visions Film Festival
Amnesty International Film Festival, Vancouver
Amnesty International Film Festival, West Hollywood
Amnesty International Film Festival, University of Wyoming
Amnesty International Film Festival, Sweden