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Update: Kenya 04-December-2004

Completing the Film

November was hectic as the entire production crew scrambled to complete Disarm in time for its initial preview in Nairobi, Kenya. Chris Collins, our friend who works on HBO shows, spent a week refining the story edit with us and our editor Árni Sveinsson. This really helped clarify various points, as well as smooth out the transitions between sequences and tighten up the entire structure considerably. The current final cut is now 67-minutes long. A lot of footage did not make it into the film, but it should be made available to the campaigns and organizations that aided us in the production as well as on the DVD.

Initial Sound Mix

By going over the "picture lock" deadline, there was little time left for the sound mix, but Katy Wood managed in a very short period to clean up and mixing the sound, while Brendan Canty completed a compelling score that includes unreleased contributions from the Flaming Lips, múm, and Thievery Corporation. We're very excited with the result and grateful to Thievery Corporation/ESL Music for allowing us the use of their recording studio while they were away on tour... A final sound mix will still be needed in 2005.

Nairobi Screenings

On 24 November, Brian and Mary left for Nairobi with Disarm in hand to preview the film to donors and participants to the diplomatic summit celebrating the Mine Ban Treaty's First Review Conference. About a hundred people attended the initial screening at the Maison Francaise in downtown Nairobi, including numerous diplomats, campaigners, deminers, mine survivors, the president of the Review Conference, and some of our donors (Canada, Germany, and Norway). Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams briefly introduced Mary, describing how she first met her when when as a student Mary interviewed her way back in 1994. At the end of the film, the crowd gave us an overwhelming standing ovation. A former deminer said it was the first film he'd seen that “got it right” by accurately showing what it's really like to be a deminer. One donor said they didn’t think the film would be so good, knowing it was our first attempt, while another described it as “money well-spent!” Everyone asked how they could get a copy of the film.

United Nations Preview

Previewing the film at the beginning of the week worked well, as the audience created a buzz that helped promote the film throughout the course of the Review Conference leading to the second screening on the final day, 3 December. We set up a display of the film banner and still photographs, and littered the United Nations with Disarm postcards. Half an hour before the second screening was scheduled to start in a huge UN room during the lunch break, all the leaders of the government delegations crowded into the room, including the governor general of Canada, Rwanda’s prime minister, a Jordanian prince, and others. We couldn’t believe our luck, but it turned out they had to take their official photograph indoors due to rain! A few stayed for the screening, including New Zealand’s disarmament minister. Approximately 150 people viewed the film including the two other donors (the Netherlands and United Kingdom) and again the film received much applause and praise. We collected a lot of written feedback that should help with future edits. One diplomat (the president of the conference actually), was a bit upset about the way he appeared in the film, which we felt rather bad about.

Next Steps: 2005!

After a short break, we plan to implement a distribution plan, aiming for the broadest possible distribution on television, the international film festival circuit, and DVD. This will require much more work, but we're encouraged by the level of interest in the film... We are scheduling another, final surround-sound mix for later in 2005 in New Zealand, where we are glad to have great access to excellent facilities. Thanks for your support and encouragement over the course of 2004. Disarm was completed on schedule, on budget, and in good shape thanks to the incredible crew and loyal supporters. We wish they could have been in Nairobi for the screenings and accolades. Seasons Greetings and best wishes for the coming New Year!