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Clearing the Zone Rouge in France, where First World War debris still poses a threat

‘We are a service responsible for removing danger.’

A century after the final shots of the First World War were fired, the nearly unfathomable scale of the conflict’s destruction still scars much of Europe, including northeast France, where some of the most intense and protracted fighting took place. Rusting munitions there pose a danger beyond just polluting the land and water – some grenades and shells are still capable of detonating if jostled by passersby. In this short documentary, the Canadian filmmaker Dominique van Olm captures the tireless efforts of the small team of démineurs tasked with safely removing First World War weapons from a stretch of France known as the Zone Rouge – a series of areas so heavily bombarded during the war that, at its end, they were deemed unfit for human habitation. With this unique and dangerous line of work as her centerpiece, van Olm not only highlights the longterm devastation of armed conflict, but also crafts a portrait of mission-based camaraderie that inverts the traditional war film.

Director: Dominique van Olm

Producer: Darren Snowden

1 September 2020

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