The DOXA Documentary Film Festival: 10 Days 75 Films

Scott Wood

Scott Wood's reviews of the DOXA Documentary Film Festival continue...

Devil’s Bargain: A Journey into the Small Arms Trade

Director: Shelley Saywell, Canada, 2008, 89 minutes

Thursday May 28 | 6:30PM | Vancity Theatre

Canadian Premiere

An age old story... War is very profitable. In today's world, weapons filter from the world's most wealth countries, specifically the US and reach the most worn countries torn via desperate arms dealers in equaly poor countries. 

Saywell's doc attempts to paint a picture of the global arm trade illustrating its points with several vignettes about the effects of the gun trade. 

A great film for those who want an introduction to the topic. An interesting fact: In Africa, the gun trade has made relief workers prisoners as helping refugees becomes more about protecting those refugees and valuable supplies with fences and ironically, more guns. 

The film takes an odd turn when it equates the epidemic of guns to the epidemic of AIDS to Africa and then interviews the son of an AIDS worker who was killed by gun violence. The story was tragic, but I felt that I was in a different film. 

But it soon gets back on path at end with a call for an international treaty limiting unregulated small arm trade, and noting that most nations agree on this, expcet for, of course, the United States.

The film was very well researched, but for a Canadian film, had very little "Canadian" content. Also the collections of vignettes that make up the film were very interesting but at times seemed unfocused. I would have loved to track a few weapons dealers and follow their life or focused on a refugee camp and their struggles. Or hear from US officail who are blocking an international treaty opr US activists who are making change in their home country. As you can see, this film could have gone in a lot of directions. 

After the film, a representative from Amnesty International talked briefly, and he noted that things are more positive then they seem and that there is more agreement than disagreement between world governments. And that countries may create an arms treaty wthout the US. Then he took comments. It was nice to see filmgoers passionate about this issue. 

To get involved with the fight to limit small arms, visit (Amnesty International Site). 

To get involved with the DOXA Festival, please visit

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  • Posted on: 11 March 2016
  • By: Administrator