Orange Bombs

Orange Bombs


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Mankind’s ability to come up with fresh ways to maim its fellow humans never ceases to amaze. The cluster bomb is a particularly heinous example, in that rather than a single missile, they release ‘bomblets’ which scatter over a wide area. They’re so indiscriminate that many countries have signed up to the UN Convention on Cluster Munitions – although this will only come into force once 30 states have ratified it (at the time of writing only 10 have), prohibiting their use.

All of which, even if and when the convention is ratified, will be cold comfort for Habib and Zeinab, a middle-aged Lebanese couple who, one way or another, have lived their entire married life in the throes or immediate aftermath of one war or another. The most recent – the 33-day war (or July War) which Israel waged against Hezbollah – took place in 2006. When it was over, Habib and Zeinab returned to their home and orange groves, to find them peppered with cluster bomblets – innocuous looking (and easily missed) black cylinders just a couple of inches in length but which could quite easily blow off a hand.

This film catches up with the couple four months after the end of the war, in which time Habib reveals they have neutralised 270 bombs on their own – since the Government and UN seem overwhelmed and powerless to help. “We collect bombs in the morning, oranges in the afternoon,” he says, smiling the sort of smile people wear when they are unsure whether to laugh or cry.

Majed Neisi follows them as they go about their daily business, in many ways a heart-rending sight, as Zeinab repeatedly says: “Here’s another.” And another, and another. Not blessed with any sort of bomb disposal equipment, their reclamation of their land involves the incredibly dangerous business of tying string round stones and pulling them onto the bombs to set them off, or shooting at them from a distance. Neisi’s film gives you a sense of the fact that these mini weapons of destruction are absolutely everywhere - even hanging from the trees - the sight of them almost surreal against their otherwise tranquil orchards.

But if Neisi’s film is a condemnation of war’s disregard for innocent civilians it is also a celebration of this family's spirited response. This is not a couple living in fear - although, you can see the ever-present threat is exacting an emotional toll - but a pair who refuse to be laid low by their position. Neisi's film is also a show of solidarity with them and a call for the rest of the world to sit up and take notice of all those civilians who live with the horrors of war long after peace deals have been signed.

More information on the Convention on Cluster Munitions can be found at

Reviewed on: 18 Jun 2009
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Husband and wife orange farmers deal with cluster bombs in the aftermath of the 33-day War Israel waged against Hezbollah.
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Director: Majed Neisi

Writer: Majed Neisi

Year: 2008

Runtime: 19 minutes

Country: Iran


EIFF 2009

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