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, 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.
Director: Marc Eberle, Screenplay: Marc Eberle/Tom Vater, Producer: www.beetz-brothers.de, 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
Marc Eberle’s documentary feature about how the CIA fights its wars is having its German cinema premiere next month and will be broadcast on numerous TV channels around the world later this year. A DVD is also in the offing. 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.
For more information on The Most Secret Place on Earth and an interview with director Marc Eberle, read this story by Andrew Nette on Inter Press Service
For information on the production and the film’s German premiere, visit Discovery Campus