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Eternal Harvest

More than 50 years after the US dropped billions of tons of explosives on Laos, 1/3 of the surface area is still contaminated by UXO which kills Laotians daily. This is a film about responsibility.

A printer-friendly version of this page 72 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Jerry Redfern
Produced by Jerry Redfern, Karen Coates
A Redcoates Studio Production

"This is a film that all Americans should see." Scott Laderman, Professor of History, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Between 1964 and 1973, in an offshoot of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military dropped 4 billion pounds of explosives on Laos, making it the most heavily bombed country per capita on the planet. Up to 30 percent of those bombs did not detonate, and they remain in the Laotian soil today as unexploded ordnance (UXO) contaminating more than one-third of the country's surface area. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and injured in UXO accidents since the war officially ended. The first bombs fell more than 50 years ago, and still today, more Laotians are hurt and killed.

ETERNAL HARVEST introduces Laotians who lived through the bombing campaign and those who live with bombs in their fields today. The film features local and foreign experts who explain the scope and hazards of the problem as well as how UXO is removed safely.

Hundreds of Laotians work daily to clear bombs from their country. Only a handful of Americans have ever joined them. One, Jim Harris, is a retired school principal from Wisconsin. He has returned year after year for more than 20 years to atone for the incredible devastation committed by his government.

This film is based on the book "Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombing in Laos" by Karen Coates.

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2022     Copyright Date: 2022
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-88-7

"Eternal Harvest carefully weaves archival war footage, stories of survivors, and the collective commitment of Laotians and a handful of Americans to clear bombs from Laos. An important documentary on the immense scale of contamination and the painstaking process of removing and destroying ordnance. Compelling us to hold the US responsible and demand more clearance funding, Eternal Harvest keeps the focus on a forgotten legacy of America's war in Laos."
Davorn Sisavath, Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies, California State University-Fullerton

"More people have been killed or maimed by unexploded ordnance in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia since 'peace' came to these countries than Americans were killed during the war. Powerfully and poignantly, Eternal Harvest reveals this troubling legacy, showing us how in Laos, whose two million inhabitants experienced the heaviest bombing per capita in history, the suffering continues. This is a film that all Americans should see."
Scott Laderman, Professor of History, University of Minnesota-Duluth, Author, The 'Silent Majority' Speech: Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the Origins of the New Right

"Jim Harris has made it his life's purpose to help clear the land of unexploded ordnance, remarking that his home country shamefully spends the 'lint of the pocket where you keep your pocket change' on clearing the land, a fraction of what it spent destroying the same land. For teachers of the Vietnam War, Eternal Harvest is a useful testament to the long-term consequences of the war, where Laos is so often ignored, and hopefully an inspiration for our students to follow Harris's example that even the smallest actions for good are never futile."
Aurelie Basha i Novosejt, Lecturer in American History, University of Kent

"In stark contrast to Americans' grand tradition of historical amnesia, this remarkable documentary forces viewers to confront a difficult moral question: What does the United States owe to the people devastated in American wars, and what can individuals do when the state fails to live up to its obligations? Accessible, compassionate, and surprisingly inspirational, Eternal Harvest is sure to spark the interest of history students, ROTC cadets, budding philosophers and ethicists, future Peace Corps volunteers, even STEM majors looking to come up with workable solutions to seemingly impossible environmental problems."
John M. Kinder, Associate Professor of American Studies and History, Oklahoma State University, Author, Paying With Their Bodies: American War and the Problem of the Disabled Veteran, Co-editor, Service Denied: Marginalized Veterans in Modern American History

"Every day in Laos, millions of people make their homes in old battlefields contaminated with live bombs. These old Lao battlefields are also American battlefields left behind by the United States' secret war in that country in the 1960s and 70s. With Eternal Harvest, Coates and Redfern have achieved a rare look at what it feels like to reckon with this war's leftover bombs (the fear and hope). This film would be an excellent introduction for students and others unfamiliar with this war and its ongoing legacy on both sides of the Pacific Ocean."
Dr. Leah Zani, Author, Bomb Children: Life in the Former Battlefields of Laos and Strike Patterns: Notes from Postwar Laos

"With powerful visuals, data, and personal stories, Eternal Harvest vividly presents an often-overlooked aspect of the Vietnam War: the massive U.S. wartime bombing of Laos and the continual threats posed by unexploded bombs (UXO). This documentary encourages us to critically consider America's undeniable responsivity in clearing up the UXOs. Eternal Harvest is a valuable visual resource to classroom discussion on war responsibility, strategic bombing, U.S. militarism and overseas intervention, and post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation."
Rong Aries Li, Department of History, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

"Everyone in the US should watch Eternal Harvest to understand the horrors of war that our country secretly inflicted on Laos during the war in Vietnam - and how shamefully little our country has done to repair the damage we inflicted. Amid government inaction, the film thankfully offers an inspiring example of how individuals can create change and build peace."
David Vine, Professor of Anthropology, American University, Author, The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State

"This is a captivating and accessible documentary that captures the seriousness and urgency of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos resulting from US bombing. By focusing on multiple locations, stories of those affected, and stories of those helping to solve the issue, the film provides faces and voices to this problem and will be engaging for students. Eternal Harvest is a good addition not only to classes on the Vietnam War but also to classes dealing with the ethics of war, US international relations, and contemporary global issues courses."
Katy Doll, Assistant Professor of History, Nova Southeastern University

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DVD Features
DVD includes 5.1 surround sound, optional English SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.

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Awards and Festivals
Outstanding Documentary Feature, Tallgrass Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Best Documentary Feature, Weyauwega International Film Festival
Santa Fe Film Festival
Victoria Film Festival
Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival
Chagrin Documentary Film Festival
ABQ Indie Film Festival
The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival

American Studies
Asian Studies
Foreign Policy

Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples
National Security
SE Asian Studies
War and Peace

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... more Reviews

"Highly recommended...Makes a convincing case for America to do more to remove unexploded ordnance (UXO) from Laos...This film, and the book that preceded it, shines a light on an important and solvable problem."
Alexander Rolfe, George Fox University, Educational Media Reviews Online

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