July 12th 2018
The years roll by but the news from Afghanistan scarcely changes. From the dry hills in landlocked Asia we glimpse mad mullahs shooting their rifles into the air. We see Humvees straining up a mountain pass and wait for the ambush. Underneath the banner news rolls through: a suicide truck has blown up a dozen pedestrians in Kabul.
Few of the many disasters that our information screens send our way are as wearying as the scenes from this war, the one that 30 years ago was dubbed “the forgotten war” because sometimes, back then, it wasn’t getting much air time. These days we’re all too likely to hear the inevitable soothing words that follow from the President, but whoever he is this time, no-one is listening.
July 5th, 2018
When disaster strikes a city or a country, aid money flows in: from governments, from NGOs, and from donations made by the general public.
The assumption is that the money will be well-spent. That it will help the people suffering misfortune, and rebuild the infrastructure that was lost.
But is that the reality?
Thor Neureiter is the director of a new documentary, Disaster Capitalism, which examines what really happens when aid money floods into a country.
July 3rd, 2018
Director Thor Neureiter joins Andrew to discuss his documentary Disaster Capitalism (one of the must see films at this years Melbourne Documentary Film Festival). On top of this, Thor discusses his role as the Director of Video at Columbia University, and how he got into documentary filmmaking. The interview focuses on how to maintain the truth in documentary filmmaking in the era of ‘fake news’.
April 22nd, 2018
I was recently in the UK researching the “war on drugs” for my forthcoming book, out in 2019, on the global drug war.
While I was there my film Disaster Capitalism screened in Newcastle in the north-east of the country. Sponsored by the great group, Recovering Justice, there was a full house to watch the film and then discuss the drug war and the film’s themes.
Here’s the review of the evening, written by Rugged University’s Alex Dunedin, along with the links between the drug war and disaster capitalism.
Before the event, I was interviewed by You Die Twice, an outlet that covers alternative culture in the north-east of England:
March 31st 2018
Take a listen to the live panel discussion after the US Premiere of Disaster Capitalism (@DisasterCapFilm) in New York City on March 27, 2018 at the Columbia Journalism School (@ColumbiaJourn). The panel includes the film’s director Thor Neureiter (@ThorNeureiter) and disaster experts Chernor Bah (@Cee_Bah), Jeff Schlegelmilch (@JeffSchlegel), Sarah Baker from Healthcare Ready (@HC_Ready), and is moderated by Jonathan Sury (@JonathanSury) from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute (@Columbia_NCDP).
March 27 2018
A key aim of my Disaster Capitalism film with director Thor Neureiter is to highlight the darker sides of aid (without arguing that aid should stop). There are currently many screenings of the film around the world from Australia to the US and UK (with many more to follow).
Aid Watch is a wonderful group that challenges the often wasteful and opaque nature of aid – they’re sponsoring a film screening in May alongside Jubilee Australia – and they’ve written an insightful overview of the movie:
Ever wondered why some societies seem to exist in a permanent disaster? Some would have us believe it’s their fault. This film lays blame squarely at what it calls ‘disaster capitalism’ – an aid-industrial complex that solidifies vulture capital, aid agencies, ‘donor’ governments and local cronies. The bloc is shored-up by the military but mainly works at the level of policy. Its genius is in converting disaster into opportunity, exploiting vulnerabilities to force a permanent ‘transformation’.
The idea is not new. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 the World Bank saw its opportunity for ‘shock therapy’, as WB official Jeffrey Sachs called it. Naomi Klein named the concept back in 2007, most graphically focusing on the aftermath of the 2005 New Orleans flood. In 2015 Antony Loewenstein extended the concept, with a focus on profit and securitisation, and now his film takes the concept further, into the murky world of ‘development assistance’.
Best-selling journalist and author Antony Loewenstein joins award-winning filmmaker Thor Neureiter, along with co-producers Media Stockade, on a six-year investigation into this world and the ramifications of disaster capitalism in Afghanistan, Haiti and Papua New Guinea.
The film takes us along today’s global frontiers of ‘disaster capitalism’, from Afghanistan, to Haiti to Papua New Guinea (PNG).
In Afghanistan we encounter the disaster of the US ‘hearts and minds’ reconstruction effort, larger than the Marshall Plan. The film exposes new US efforts to control the country’s corrupted and coercive mining sector, ironically to compensate for US beneficence as occupier. In Haiti, aid inflows seal deals between the government and post-disaster carpet-bagging investors. The film shows how local people are compulsorily shunted from shanties to industrial estates, to capture their labour for world factories, at knock-down wages. And finally, the film takes us to PNG, the largest recipient of Australia’s aid largess. Mining again is the key, with a focus on Bougainville, and Australia’s role in fuelling the war over the Panguna copper mine, and subsequently in trying to reopen it. Again, aid offers renewed disaster.
Across these countries and very different situations the focus is on how aid is used – not on how it could be used. Yet it remains agnostic – the situation is bleak, yet the possibilities remain. One of the films great strengths is in the way it portrays the people and organisations it engages with – a mining campaign group in Afghanistan, shanty-dwellers in Haiti, community landholders in Bougainville. Their strength is an inspiration and an indication of how true democracy and self-determination can prevail, against corrupted elites, hooked on disaster capitalism. The film advances this cause, exposing this increasingly familiar mode of domination, and how people contest it.
March 04 2018
The documentary Disaster Capitalism opens with the earthquake in Haiti, 2010. Through the ghostly fog of CCTV video, we see the ground furiously shake buildings into dust. Fronted by Australian journalist and writer Antony Loewenstein and shot over six years, in collaboration with director Thor Neureiter, Director of Video at Columbia University, the film visits and revisits three countries — Haiti, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea — riven by various crises and trapped in a cycle of dependence on Western aid. This cycle, Loewenstein tells Crikey, is no accident.
March 02 2018
Antony Loewenstein was interviewed on one of Melbourne’s best breakfast radio programs, Triple R Breakfasters, about Disaster Capitalism (after a very successful public screening in Melbourne): You can listen here
February 26 2018
Last week in Sydney was the first public screening of my film, Disaster Capitalism. Director Thor Neureiter was in New York but co-producers Media Stockade were there along with a solid audience. There will be many more public screenings in Australia, the US and beyond soon. After the film, we held a Q&A around aid and development plus journalism in conflict zones. It was recorded by Sky News TV and broadcast last weekend. Here’s how they described the event:
The Walkley Foundation has held its first Walkley Talk for the year at the State Library of NSW. The event featured a screening of independent documentary film Disaster Capitalism by journalist Antony Loewenstein. The screening was followed by a robust discussion on aid in conflict zones, revealing how the supply of aid to those in need isn’t always as transparent and ethical as it seems. The panel included the filmmaker himself, along with head of journalism at Macleay College and former foreign correspondent Monica Attard, and journalists Hugh Riminton and Yaara Bou Melhem.
The conversation touched on the role of journalists in delivering accurate public interest news from war zones, and holding NGOs and aid organisations accountable when bringing the reporters on the ground in the first place. It explored the corruption and conflict rampant in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, and Lebanon, and implications for the media and global community, who may all too often be switching off the television to avoid distressing news. The discussion also offered an insight into the world of freelancing and war reporting, while challenging the concepts of international assistance and development through the perspectives of investigative journalists.
February 22 2018
I investigated in Afghanistan, Haiti and PNG. Too often I heard stories of western governments swooping in and dictating terms
February 11 2018
with Hugh Rimington on Radio National ABC
When war or disaster strikes, we assume our aid contributions are life-saving, or at the very least will help rebuild countries and shattered communities. But some say trade works better than aid. Antony Loewenstein spent six years examining nations that have been pulled apart by conflict and disaster, and he's produced 'Disaster Capitalism', a documentary currently being shown on limited release.
The segment can be listened to here
February 01 2018
Well when things go wrong in the world - whether it be a devastating earthquake or war - foreign aid flows from the UN and big nations. Which seems good right? Well yes, and no. Journalist Antony Lowenstein has been tracking what happens in countries that have had problems long after the TV News cameras leave and is troubled by what he found. He spoke to Radio Australia's Seini Taumoepeau.
November 28 2017
After 6+ years, we've finished the film! It's been a long journey but we're rapt to have completed it.
Here's the just released trailer.
We will have more news soon about public screenings, film festivals and TV broadcasts around the world.
But in the meantime, enjoy the trailer and please follow us on social media.
October 7 2017
We're excited to announce that we're in the final stages of production and will finish the film in the coming month. After a 6-year journey, we're looking forward to presenting the film to audiences around the world. After continuing to follow our key characters in Afghanistan, Haiti and Papua New Guinea, and assessing the Trump administration's worldview, the documentary remains deeply relevant.
We're currently talking to our distributor about TV broadcaster opportunities in 2018 and we're also approaching film festivals across the globe.
August 30 2016
We're happy to announce that our recent fund-raising drive was successful and we garnered support from across the world. Thank you.
We are currently working on a rough cut of our film and hope to have more news soon. It's exciting watching the film come together and we're keen to show you the finished product.
May 13 2016
We recently returned from the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto, one of the biggest documentary film festivals in the world, after pitching our film to over 400 distributors, sales agents and broadcasters from around the globe. We had 30 meetings with many of them. There was huge interest in our project and we're currently working on a rough cut of the feature film.
This week, after five years, we finished principle photography after shooting in Washington DC. We'll soon be launching a large crowd-funding campaign to raise the required funds to complete the film.
Stay tuned for more news soon.
April 6 2016
The Sydney Morning Herald has written about the film and our inclusion in the Hot Docs film festival in May.
March 9 2016
We're excited to announce that we've just been selected for the prestigious Hot Docs film festival in Toronto in May, one of the leading documentary film festivals in the world. One of 19 films chosen (out of hundreds submitted), we'll be pitching our documentary for funding, distribution and recognition.
January 28, 2016
Afghanistan is a key focus of the film and Antony investigated the huge disappearance of US aid in The National newspaper.
December 14, 2015
Read about our reporting on Afghanistan in The Nation Magazine article written by Antony.
November 15, 2015
C-SPAN Book TV recorded Antony speaking with journalist and author Jeremy Scahill about the film and his new book, Disaster Capitalism, hosted by Housing Works in New York in October 2015.
October 26, 2015
Rolling Stone published a piece to mark the release of Antony's book, Disaster Capitalism, which frame's disaster capitalism around the current European refugee crisis.
October 9, 2015
Antony's interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now for his book "Disaster Capitalism: Make a Killing out of Catastrophe" and our film. Our teaser opens the segment.
October 8, 2015
Antony appeared on Huffpost Live October 6, 2015 to discuss the release of his book "Disaster Capitalism: Make a Killing out of Catastrophe" and our film.
September 30, 2015
This film remains a work in progress. We have filmed 90% of it, in Afghanistan, Haiti and Papua New Guinea, and are now searching for funds for post-production. If you're able to help, please email us to find out how you can show your support.