Bomb Harvest is an Australian made documentary about bomb disposal in Laos. To give you a blurb:In Laos, over two million tonnes of bombs were dropped during a war that at the time no-one knew about; the so-called ‘secret war’. Now, thirty-five years later, the casualties from these unexploded ordnances or bombs are on the increase.A new documentary that premiered at this year’s Sydney Film Festival explores the consequences of war as it follows an Australian bomb disposal specialist, training locals in the skill of detonating bombs while trying to stop the locals, particularly children, from finding them and using them for scrap metal.I saw the documentary last week and thought it was excellent. I think they captured aspects of Lao culture really well. The main protagonist in the film is an Australian bomb disposal engineer who is helping to train a team of Lao people. He’s very likable and his sense of humour was really compatible with his Lao compatriots. When they ask him if he wants a Lao wife he tells them that he does but they don’t like him because he’s fat and ugly.A google video of the documentary (condensed to 1 hour rather than 88 minutes) can be found here.An ABC radio interview with the creators of the film can be found here.A criticism of the film I have is that it never gives the audience the facts on how many unexploded bomb casualties there are in Laos per year. These figures are hidden from the audience. The dramatic nature of the film exaggerates their impact. According to mineaction.org the casualties were 109 (2003), 194 (2004), 164 (2005), 49 (2006), 70 (first half of 2007). This compares with road accident casualties for 2003 (see here) by official police figures of 6,646 (415 deaths and 6,231 injuries) and by estimates 19,271 (581 deaths and 18,690 injuries).I’m not trying to show that unexploded bombs are not a serious problem in Laos, they certainly are and groups combating the problem deserve your support. I’m instead trying to point out that bombs are not such a big problem in Laos that they should make you scared to visit the place. I’ve heard from at least one person who changed their mind about visiting Laos after seeing this documentary, so I’m concerned it may have an impact on the tourism industry.Most bomb casualties are from people trying to dismantle the bomb for scrap metal. Unless you’re planning to do that in your holiday in Laos I think you can expect to come home alive.

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