Lord of war? Merchant of death? Or globetrotting entrepreneur and amateur filmmaker?
In Andrew Niccol's black comedy Lord of War, Nicolas Cage plays a cocky, profits-driven arms smuggler with few moral qualms. That movie was based on fact, the main inspiration being Viktor Bout, a Russian entrepreneur and home-moviemaker extraordinaire.
Bout's entrepreneurialism just happened to be in the import/export trade, and he made no distinctions between legal and illegal cargo, or clients. He even filmed his face-to-face deals with warlords and corrupt politicians in Afghanistan, Libya, Liberia and the Congo as if he were on safari. Indeed, as an aspiring filmmaker Bout has over 20 years of video of his life, at work and at home, and he kept recording until days before his arrest for conspiring to kill Americans.
Using Bout's own footage, as well as first-person narrative, interviews and DEA surveillance records gathered during the sting to bring him down, Maxim Pozdorovkin (Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer, MIFF 2013) and Tony Gerber have compiled an insightful, often funny and occasionally disturbing portrait of the man dubbed the Merchant of Death.
"Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin's very entertaining documentary paints a somewhat grotesquely comic, in its way even sympathetic, portrait of a man whose guilt in enabling war crimes is crystal-clear to everyone save himself." – Variety
Maxim Pozdorovkin is a guest of the festival.