Drone (15) Close-Up Film Review

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Dir. Tonje Hessen Schei, Norway, 2014, 58 mins, in English

Cast: Shahzad Akbar, Noor Behram, Brandon Bryant, Michael Haas

The short running time means that Drone can only scratch the surface of the issues involved in drone warfare and the machine’s current massive deployment by the USA and other governments. But nevertheless, Drone is eye-opening stuff.

Tonje Hessen Schei’s insight into the world of drone warfare focuses on the experiences of two ex-drone pilots as well as the efforts of two human rights’ organisations to hold the CIA, the USAF and the US government accountable for war crimes in Waziristan. Both aspects shed disturbing light on one of the most controversial practices in modern day conflict.

Through voices on both sides of this new technology, Drone offers information about the drone war in Pakistan and insights into the nature of drone warfare. Drone covers diverse but relevant and integral ground: from the recruitment of young pilots at gaming conventions and the re-definition of “going to war”, to the moral stance of engineers behind the technology, the world leaders giving the secret “green light” to engage in the biggest targeted killing program in history, and the people willing to stand up against the violations of civil liberties and fight for transparency, accountability and justice. The film also points out that this is just the beginning: the fast-changing nature of technologies and lagging international legislation mean that our own futures may well be affected by drones.

My only quibble is that the short running time means that Schei has had to choose what information to focus on: some really interesting ethical and legal points are mentioned and then brushed aside; while the film spends loads of time embedded with human rights organization Reprieve in Waziristan – for the feelgood factor of demonstrating a popular opposition of sorts to drones, I suppose. This is in no way to denigrate the great work that Reprieve does both in this case and the world over.

I’d say: watch Drone and then read Grégoire Chamayou’s excellent Drone Theory.

Review by Colin Dibben

Colin Dibben

Author: Colin Dibben

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