The Deminer

“The Deminer” – a must-see documentary about a mine clearance hero

An extraordinary film about an extraordinary man will be released online and in select UK theatres from 27 April. The Deminer tells the story of Colonel Fakhir Berwari, who with just a knife and a pair of wire cutters, disarms hundreds of mines in and around Mosul in northern Iraq. The film is a must-see for anyone interested in the issues surrounding explosive remnants of war – not just to watch the unbelievable courage of Fakhir in action, but also to see first-hand the complex, chaotic conditions that make recovery for post-conflict communities so difficult.

The film is mostly made up of home videos shot by fellow Peshmerga soldiers under Fakhir’s command. These are discovered by his son years later, who describes them as “real life action films.” As a viewer, each time Fakhir digs up an improvised explosive device (IED), or finds one behind a sofa in a ransacked house, you are very much aware that you are watching a man risking his life live and on camera.

Uncertainty and danger permeate nearly every frame of this film. More than once IEDs go off live on camera – an experience that is not only shocking to watch as a viewer but is perhaps the perfect illustration of the random deadliness that surrounds post-conflict societies every day.

Fakhir’s methods are utterly unorthodox and at odds with standard demining practices. This is made clear when he disarms an IED for the very first time as a deminer. Fakhir’s unit pulls alongside some soldiers who had found an IED, and are waiting patiently for a specialist bomb disposal unit to arrive. Much to the consternation of the American voices that can be heard off-camera, Fakhir strides forward, yanks the IED out of the ground, and removes the detonator with a few clips of his wire cutters. Fahir’s audacity and bravery in the face of instant death are breathtaking, and, as the viewer soon learns, repeated over and over again.

Things do not always go well for Fakhir. Despite his hard work the occasional IED is missed and detonates. In one blast he loses his right leg from the knee down. But, knowing that families and children in Mosul remain in danger, he is unwilling to retire or work from behind a desk. He returns to the Peshmerga wearing a prosthetic, and resumes his pre-blast habit of demining with breakneck-speed.

Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath speaks highly of the film saying, “The Deminer is an absorbing and emotional watch. While Major Fakir’s method of clearance was definitely unconventional, he was obviously working in unconventional circumstances.

“His intentions were certainly humanitarian and there is no doubt that his work saved very many lives. I highly recommend this film to anyone who wants to learn more about the complex social problems that conflicts create, or who simply wants to see the story of a true hero in action.”

The Deminer will first be screened The Picturehouse Central in London from 27 April before opening in other locations, and shown at theatres across the UK for a special screening on 15 May (click here for full screening details).

The Deminer is also available for streaming on iTunes by pre-ordering here.