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Arts & Culture

INDEPENDENT LENS: Shadow World

President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher viewing a model of a manned space station while at Lancaster House in London, June 9, 1984.
Courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library
President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher viewing a model of a manned space station while at Lancaster House in London, June 9, 1984.

Airs Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV (not available to stream)

Expose of the Massive Greed & Corruption of the Global Arms Trade

“Shadow World” premiered on INDEPENDENT LENS in 2017, and is no longer available for streaming.

From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair, “Shadow World” reveals the shocking realities of the global arms trade, the only business that counts its profits in billions and its losses in human lives.

Directed by Johan Grimonprez ("dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y"), the film is based on “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade,” the acclaimed book by Andrew Feinstein.

Andrew Feinstein, subject of “Shadow World.” Arms industry expert and author of the book that inspired the film, “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade.”
Courtesy of SHADOW WORLD PRODUCTIONS, LLC
Andrew Feinstein, subject of “Shadow World.” Arms industry expert and author of the book that inspired the film, “The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade.”

“Shadow World” explores how governments, their militaries and intelligence agencies, defense contractors, arms dealers and agents are inextricably intertwined with the international trade in weapons, and how that trade fosters corruption, determines economic and foreign policies, undermines democracies and creates human suffering.

Through the insights of whistleblowers, investigators, prosecutors, journalists, military and industry insiders, the film unravels a number of the world’s largest and most corrupt arms deals.

It illustrates how the global arms trade operates in a parallel legal universe, in which the national security elite who drive it are seldom prosecuted for their often-illegal actions.

Ultimately the film reveals the real costs of war, the way the arms trade drives it, and how a defense industry that is supposed to enhance security instead gives us the exact opposite: a more dangerous world.

“I came to realize that corruption is not a dirty little side effect of the arms trade, but is, in fact, its defining factor,” said Grimonprez. “Even more crucial is how it is entangled in driving foreign policy, and how it actually sets the stage for war.”

"'Shadow World' shows us the business of war and puts a human face on who profits from that business,” said Lois Vossen, INDEPENDENT LENS executive producer. “Around the world taxpayers fund the defense industry. As we come to terms regarding what we want our government to do with that money, 'Shadow World' asks if wars are being prolonged to generate more profits for a few, no matter the human cost.”

Chris Hedges, subject of "Shadow World." Correspondent, The New York Times (1990-2005).
Courtesy of SHADOW WORLD PRODUCTIONS, LLC
Chris Hedges, subject of "Shadow World." Correspondent, The New York Times (1990-2005).

The film features interviews with Chris Hedges, former New York Times war correspondent; Franklin C. Spinney, former Pentagon military analyst; Cynthia McKinney, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives; Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell; and Wesley Clark, U.S. Army (retired), Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (1997-2000), among others.

Cynthia McKinney, subject of "Shadow World." U.S. House of Representatives, 1997-2003, 2005-2007.
Courtesy of SHADOW WORLD PRODUCTIONS, LLC
Cynthia McKinney, subject of "Shadow World." U.S. House of Representatives, 1997-2003, 2005-2007.
Lawrence Wilkerson, subject of "Shadow World." Colonel, U.S. Army (retired), Fmr. Chief of Staff to US Sec. of State, Colin Powell.
Courtesy of SHADOW WORLD PRODUCTIONS, LLC
Lawrence Wilkerson, subject of "Shadow World." Colonel, U.S. Army (retired), Fmr. Chief of Staff to US Sec. of State, Colin Powell.

“Shadow World” premiered on INDEPENDENT LENS in November 2017. The full episode is no longer available for streaming.

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Credits:

Directed by Johan Grimonprez. Stories written and read by Eduardo Galeano. Director of Photography: Nicole Mackinlay Hahn. Edited by Per K. Kirkegaard, Pedro Collantes de Teran Bayonas, Dieter Diependaele. Story by Johan Grimonprez and Andrew Feinstein. Original Music by Karsten Fundal. Produced by Joslyn Barnes and Anadil Hossain. Co-Producers: Signe Byrge Sørensen and Emmy Oost. Executive Producers: Abigail Disney, Danny Glover, Driss Benyaklef, Sally Jo Fifer and Lois Vossen. Co-Executive Producers: Michael J. Zak, Jodie Evans, Matthew Palevsky and Susan Rockefeller.

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