The Most Secret Place on Earth (The CIA Covert War in Laos) at FCCT, Bangkok, November 22nd



After showing at numerous international film festivals and several broadcasts on terrestrial European television, Marc Eberle’s The Most Secret Place on Earth (The CIA Covert War in Laos), co-written by Tom Vater, will be screened a second time at the Foreign Correspondents Club Thailand in Bangkok on November 22nd, 2010.

Director Marc Eberle, screen writer Tom Vater and writer/anti war activist Fred Branfman, one of the principal characters in the film, will be present at the screening.

Show time is 7pm. The screening will be followed by Q&A and a panel discussion.

The Vietnam War was the most intensely televised war ever. However, next door in neighboring Laos, the longest and largest air war in human history was underway, which eventually made Laos the most bombed country on earth. The Secret War was the largest operation ever conducted by the CIA, yet to this day, hardly anyone knows anything about it. Critics call it the biggest war crime of the Vietnam War era and point to striking similarities to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; similarities that were tested and set in motion back in Laos in the 1960s.

In The Most Secret Place On Earth, key players of the Secret War– former CIA agents, American pilots, Laotian fighters and war reporters — take us on a journey into the physical heart of the conflict: Top secret Long Cheng, a remote valley, where the CIA built its headquarters in 1962. It was from this base that the Secret War was largely planned and executed. As the war dragged on, Long Cheng became the busiest airbase in the world and a major center for the global opium and heroin trade. As we journey into Long Cheng for the first time — the site has been off limits to the outside world since the end of the war in 1975 — the film reconstructs the gripping story of the operation and illustrates its relevance to current American conflicts.

Having contributed as a screenwriter and researcher in Laos, Thailand and the US, I am really happy to see this amazing story finally being told. It’s been an incredible experience working with the film’s protagonists and exploring their stories within the historical framework.

The Secret War in Laos can only find closure if the story of the conflict is in the public domain. And only then can Long Cheng and its memories be returned to the world. Lest we forget, former CIA-Hmong fighters and their families continue to live in the remote mountains of Laos, on the run, trapped between past and present. I hope the film will become a standard reference for this captivating part of the larger war America fought in South East Asia and for US foreign policy from the 1960s and 1970s to the present time.

The Most Secret Place on Earth (The CIA Covert War in Laos) has recently been reviewed by Mark Taylor in DOX Magazine in its  Summer Edition.

Here an excerpt:

Eberle’s documentary takes us from this first encounter to the construction at Long Chen of a centre of industrialized death-from-above. He does it at a break-neck speed, clearly aiming to push a complex history through the 45 minute window of television documentaries.
But he succeeds, primarily by keeping the focus on the story of Long Chen’s transformation from a bit of forest in the middle of nowhere, into the centre of a covert “death machine” on the western flank of the Vietnam war.

The Most Secret Place on Earth does its best to communicate the horrors suffered as a war machine, built in the shadow of a larger war. Still, it is hard not to feel that this is something beyond human comprehension. The “secret war” is, as the film implies, an ancestor of today’s U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But far from being the mold which contemporary wars were forged, the film depicts a war that is a nightmarish synthesis of total war and colonialism, a war in which two of the most deadly manifestations of twentieth century violence culminate.

Director: Marc Eberle, Screenplay: Marc Eberle/Tom Vater, Producer:, Co-Production: NDR/arte/WDR
Developed within the framework of Discovery Campus Masterschool 2003
Funded by the Filmförderung HHSH, Filmstiftung NRW, MEDIA NEW TALENTS and MEDIA BROADCAST

7 thoughts on “The Most Secret Place on Earth (The CIA Covert War in Laos) at FCCT, Bangkok, November 22nd

  1. Dear All
    My name is Vong, I am the lowland Lao and living in Luang Prabang, I will go to survey to LongCheng tomorrow (13 Feb 2015), I hope long cheng will be nice place for tourist n the next future, longcheng just open to tourist about 6months ago, this trip would take 3days/2Nights, longcheng has didn’t open to the eye since 1975, it’s mean 40years already, but i have been there about 5 years ago.

    Warm regards

  2. I was at the FCCT on the 22nd and asked what the documentary could do about the displacement of the present resentment among Hmong youths in the US and other places towards the general Laos public, however, being very nervous I forgot to mention my gratitude for the makers of the documentary and how good it was, so, thankyou.

  3. Hi Tom

    Congratulations on catching the FCCT’s attention. I made a 7000km motorbike ride on a Minsk 125cc from Laos through Vietnam and Cambodia following as much as possible the Ho Chi Minh Trail. During the preparation, mostly using FCCT’s wifi sporadic facility, and while doing the ride then on my return there was remarkably little interest in the event.

    In the FCCT blurb it says Laos ‘one of the most bombed countries’. It is of course as you know well THE most bombed country ever since the history of bombs and probably in any future use of bombs. To distribute their hardware, it took the equivalent of one B52 bomber every 8 minutes continuously for 9 years to drop that tonnage.

    There were more bombs dropped on Laos than the cumulative total of bombs dropped around the world since bombs began being dropped through WWII up to the Vietnam war, or American War as the Vietnamese call it.

    The fact that this took place in neighbouring Laos and is largely overlooked remains a mystery.

    Reader may wish to note that over 3 million Vietnamese died during the American War.

    Sadly I will not be able to attend as I am currently in East Africa, now Zanzibar having just arrived by old Pakistani freighter from Mombasa.

    Please do view my blog,

    I have discovered that perhaps the first ever Cluster Bombs were dropped by the British RAF during the Mau Mau war of circa 1954 on the side of Mount Kenya, where Prince William was romancing his fiancee recently.

    Now that both Kenya and UK have signed the CLuster Munitions Treaty ,the Mau Mau are again on the warpath, not only for defending the land the British were stealing from them but compensation for the continuing devastation the UXOs exert on their daily lives.

    Best wishes

    Robert Kinnear

  4. Hi there,
    I don´t think you have to reserve a seat. Just turn up. The first time we showed The Most Secret Place on Earth at the FFC, we had a packed house. This time, we are showing a longer version with lots of additional, unseen archive footage.

  5. Do I have to reserve a seat for this event? We are a member of FCCT Club.
    BTW, this film is very interesting.

  6. I used to work with clients (both ex-military and contract CIAoperatives who served in Laos). They used to get visits every 6 mos threatening them and their families if they ever talked about what they did in Laos. Other than that the US government simply cut the contract agents loose – often after years of patriotic service. This always left a big hole in their resume. Besides which the government never paid into social security for them – or provided them VA benefits. This meant if they came back wounded or with PTSD (often aggravated by the nasty six monthly visits from spooks), they weren’t eligible for social security disability or Medicare. Leaving them no choice but to go on welfare if their condition kept them from working. I write about this in my recent memoir: THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE ( I currently live “in exile” in New Zealand.

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