About this project
About the Film
A documentary that will make you provoked, uncomfortable and empowered.
Disaster capitalism reveals a reality in the global aid and investment industry. It’s a complex web of interests that spans the globe from powerful nations to multinational corporations to tribal and village leaders. The money that fuels this industry sometimes comes from well-intentioned individuals who donate money after natural disasters. It’s also the tax dollars of ordinary citizens in Western countries that’s dolled out in the name of foreign policy and diplomacy. Disaster Capitalism takes the viewer inside three countries to reveal how the cause and effect of globalized development and aid is shaping government and policy in these vulnerable nations.
So far we have pieced together the thesis of Disaster Capitalism through individual trips to Haiti, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea. During our travels we have conducted interviews with individuals who are passionate about improving their countries through foreign investment and others who are concerned with the current aid, drip-feed development model. We’ve found that the international aid and investment industry is a gray world that’s often portrayed as black and white in our media. This film takes a creative approach to reveal the realities on the ground through reporting beyond ministry conference rooms and NGO headquarters. We get down and dirty to show you a different reality.
This story is happening all over the developing world and our film has the unique perspective of covering three countries to reveal that they’re not isolated issues. The documentary will show both the beauty and destruction, natural and man-made, that exists in each nation. This imagery is a key component of the story; it highlights the need for responsible, international investment but it’s also a reminder of the resilience and hope people have in these states. What we have found and will show is that the landscapes and issues are similar in these very different locations on the globe and this documentary will weave together their stories to help understand the world of disaster capitalism. As the private contractor for USAID Timothy Schwartz states in the trailer about the interests of capitalists in disaster areas, “they’re going to get their way if something doesn’t counter balance it.” Our focus with Disaster Capitalism is to find out if that balance can be achieved.
In the tradition of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine and Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars, we uncover a world you don't often see on the nightly TV news or in The New York Times. We detail the reality of USAID in Haiti and why a country so close to America remains mired in poverty and corruption more than three years after a deadly earthquake that killed at least tens of thousands of people. Despite the billions of dollars pledged after the quake, Haiti continues to suffer mightily, both economically and politically. It’s a country that craves real independence from the international aid and intervention it has lived under for the past century.
We question whether Afghanistan, soon to see most foreign troops withdrawn after 2014, can imagine an ethical mining industry to support its population. Afghanistan has been historically inhospitable to the presence of outsiders, so any plan that’s based on attracting foreign investment is taking a major risk in ensuring a safe environment. To date the Chinese are one of the first to enter the race for Afghanistan’s abundant minerals. What role does China’s soft power play in the new Great Game over untapped resources?
We investigate if an semi-autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, formerly the site of some of the world's largest mining projects and recipient of more than half a billion dollars of aid annually from Australia, will be seduced by multinational largesse. After suffering the loss of at least 15,000 people during the mining company Rio Tinto backed civil war in the province in the 1980s and 1990s - human rights abuses and environmental destruction were rampant - leaders are now considering welcoming back mining operations to the island.
We meet inspiring individuals and groups who are living these stories. Disaster Capitalism is a beautifully filmed documentary that aims to bring these lives to the screen.
About this campaign:
We have a trailer and big plans for the future. This is where you come in. We're excited about taking this project to the next stage, which is making a follow-up trip to each country in order to capture personal stories that will portray the complexities of international aid and development. Our aim is to raise $20,000 that will help cover travel expenses and continue the editing process over the next six months. We will also be applying for grant money from a range of leading American funds including the MacArthur Foundation, Sundance Institute and Tribeca Documentary Fund in the immediate future. Your support will help us meet those goals.
Thor and Antony are determined to have a feature length documentary, of one hour, in early 2014, so we can aim for TV or cinema broadcast and distribution and film festival screenings around the world. The final style of the film is still being discussed and we’re very open to taking the project in a few possible directions. But central to our thinking is placing people’s lives, their struggles and triumphs, as the main storytelling device.
We believe the subject matter of Disaster Capitalism is universal and timely and won't date. Afghanistan, Haiti and Papua New Guinea appear in the news on a regular basis but all too often solely from the perspective of Western interests. Your financial support, with a range of wonderful prizes, will display your dedication to independent filmmaking and contribute in a small but tangible way to creating an international dialogue, in a creative, cinematic way, about an important subject that affects us all.
We are excited about completing this film, three years in the making, and need your help to do so. Antony Loewenstein is a best-selling Australian author and journalist. Thor Neureiter is an Emmy award winning, New York based filmmaker. We're independent filmmakers and writers and proud of it. We are working on opposite sides of the world, combining technology and different life experiences, and coming together to produce this film.
We met in 2012 while working on separate projects for a few years and discovered that our interests collided perfectly. We have reported and filmed separately in Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea during this time period. Now we've combined forces, with footage shot by both Thor and Antony in different nations, to make one, compelling film. With Thor's filmmaking and editing skills and Antony's journalistic talents, we came together to make Disaster Capitalism and travelled to Haiti in September 2012 to continue the journey.
Antony’s 2013 related book, Profits of Doom, is endorsed by Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Scahill, John Pilger and others, so we’re confident that our message is provocative, creative and serious.
We’re also excited that DJ /rupture, New York based DJ, producer, and writer, will contribute his talents to Disaster Capitalism and score the film. Three songs from his album Uproot are featured in the trailer.
Ultimately, we're filmmakers and writers who believe in the power of film to create a space for discussion and reflection. We'd love your support in this endeavor.
The following photographs were taken by Antony on his various travels for the Profits of Doom book and documentary, giving you a taste of the nature of vulture capitalism around the world. 42 of Antony's photographs are displayed in a Profits of Doom exhibition in Sydney, Australia in August 2013:
Risks and challenges
We are both experienced in the world of independent filmmaking and journalism. We're spent years raising money for various projects, in America, Australia and beyond, so we feel confident that the Disaster Capitalism documentary will be completed in a timely manner and reach the widest audience possible. We're committed to doing this and our track record proves it.
Challenges will inevitably occur, in terms of logistics and funding, and we will keep all supporters abreast of our progress. Our intention is to complete and release the film as soon as possible despite the possible delays that are inherent in independent filmmaking.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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