Media: RE:UP 31-October-2005

Review: RE:UP Magazine, Vol. 008/2005

Disarm by Next Step Productions/Toolbox Design”

Flashback to last November, when Thievery Corporation invited us to their Washington, D.C. studio for the RE:UP #006 cover feature. We just happened to be present the day filmmaker Brian Liu and Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty were using the ESL studio to lay down the audio for the film Disarm and they subsequently sent us a copy of the completed project a few months later. Filmed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, and Belarus, Disarm calmly reveals the raw and sobering aftermath of land mine usage, as well as the painstaking and expensive process that is required to deactivate them. And when you learn that 86% of land mine casualties are civilians-sometimes occurring years after the mines were initially placed in the ground-you too will wonder about the net worth of these killing devices. Included in the soundtrack of the film was music from Canty, Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, Mum, and of course Thievery Corporation. Liu, co-director and director of photography for this heartfelt, almost meditative documentary shares some insight:

How was the film funded?
The executive producer, Mary Wareham, is commonly accepted as one of the architects of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and was with this then-small group when they won the Nobel Prize in 1997. Thereafter, she commands some serious respect in the international community. We idealistically sought complete creative license to avoid any sort of political, financial or organizational agendas, and still somehow, we got funded.

What has been the initial reaction?
People were very surprised to see a film of this nature. Intelligent, but unpredictable and more “vibe” oriented then typically packaged. Some demining agency heads congratulated us and said we are the only ones who actually “got demining right.” The funders were mote than happy, even making a point to say that the music was good, despite not knowing all the bands.

How did you and Thievery Corporation become involved?
I’ve been touring with Thievery as a crew member for 6 years now, doing still photography, some stage direction, and shooting video fore a potentially upcoming DVD. Thievery has become increasingly socially conscious over the years so it seemed natural that they would help this project. We did all the sound and music in ESL studios, except for the base tracks sent in from Mum and from The Flaming Lips. One particularly interesting thing about this experience was the opportunity to collaborate with the two legendary D.C. camps of Fugazi and Thievery. Both are fiercely independent, own their own labels and are highly stylized. This town is conservative, but in a very strange way. Washington D.C. fosters this sort of independent spirit and thought.

Do you feel the film has helped raise awareness to the international community for the overall ban of land mines?
Not yet but it will when Mary spreads this film everywhere and an advocacy tool like a virus.

By Beau Lamontagne, RE:UP Magazine