Based on the bestselling book by author, journalist and renowned global arms expert Andrew Feinstein, the Tribeca Film Festival documentary “Shadow World” reveals the shocking reality and corruption behind the global weapons trade. The new documentary goes deep inside the so-called “shadow world” of government ties and big-money arms buys, and is crafted to blow the roof off some pretty hefty topics.
Per its official synopsis: “In this eye-popping montage of archival and news footage and interviews, Johan Grimonprez exposes the shadow world of the global arms trade, where corruption, lies, and greed drive covert relationships between politicians, industry executives, military and intelligence officials, and arms dealers. Their aim: to perpetuate war in order to generate more profit, no matter what the human cost.” The film uses a bevy of interviews and insights from a number of sources, including whistleblowers, investigators, prosecutors, military and industry insiders. “Shadow World” promises to expose the real cost of war, and it’s a shocking one
Of the film, Grimonprez shared with Indiewire, “In working out the story with Andrew, I came to realize that corruption is not a dirty little side effect of the arms trade, but in fact its defining factor. Even more crucial is how it is entangled in driving foreign policy, and how it actually sets the stage for war…The business of war manipulates the media to cultivate an industry of fear, which in turn has created a reality defined by violence. My approach to the storytelling involves a media archaeology, examining how the media affects us, while examining myths about human nature celebrating greed and self-interest.”
Given the recent news regarding the release of the Panama Papers, the film is more necessary and vital than ever. Of the uncanny timing, Feinstein commented, “The Panama Papers are a veritable treasure trove of corporate skullduggery. Given that the global trade in weapons accounts for about 40% of all corruption, and that those involved in the arms trade are notorious for their use of off-shore companies and agents, as revealed in ‘Shadow World,’ it’s not surprising to find defense companies mentioned in the papers.”
He continued, “As ‘Shadow World’ exposes, these types of arrangements [revealed in the papers] typify the way in which large defense contractors pay bribes that are then difficult to trace back to the parent company. The film unravels the extraordinary money laundering scheme at the heart of the world’s most corrupt arms deal, in which more than eight and a half billion dollars of bribes were paid, partly through the then venerable Riggs Bank of Washington DC. Pentagon insiders speak of the corruption inherent in the US defense system and how this economic motivation is sometimes a driver of war.”