ERASE AND FORGET (18) Directed by Andrea Zimmerman
This major new investigative documentary by Andrea Luka Zimmerman explores and exposes the decades of militarism, gun culture, toxic masculinity and social unrest that led to the age of Trump.
‘like a Lynchian nightmare of right-wing America’
‘A cinematic portrait of the war hero turned whistleblower’
The majority of lives are lived in history. Few lives make history. If that history is dark, occupying the shadowlands and margins of what is known or acceptable, the price of that making can be very high indeed…
Using never before seen archive footage of covert US operations, and interviews filmed over a ten year period, ERASE AND FORGET is a new documentary which explores ‘the deep bonds between Hollywood’s fictionalized conflicts and America’s hidden wars’. It charts the extraordinary life and times of Bo Gritz, one of America’s highest decorated veterans and the ‘inspiration’ for Rambo and Brando’s Colonel Kurtz.
Lt. Col. James Gordon ‘Bo’ Gritz – ‘the American Soldier’ for the Commander-in-Chief of the Vietnam War – is one of the most decorated combatants in US history. He is a man of ‘a thousand faces’ and the media turned him into the inspiration behind Rambo, Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith (The A-Team) and Brando’s Colonel Kurtz (Apocalypse Now), Gritz was at the heart of American military and foreign policy – both overt and covert – from the Bay of Pigs to Afghanistan.
Bo was financed by Clint Eastwood and William Shatner, who supported his ‘deniable’ missions searching for American POWs in Vietnam. He has exposed US government drug running, turning against the Washington elite as a result. He has run for President, created a homeland community in the Idaho Wilderness and trained Americans in strategies of counter-insurgency against the incursions of their own government.
Bo has also killed at least 400 people, often in the most violent ways.
He embodies contemporary American society in all its dizzying complexity and contradiction.
Today, he lives in the Nevada desert where he once secretly trained Afghan Mujahedeen. He is loved and admired by his community. He sleeps with many weapons. He finds it hard to sleep…
Filmed over ten years, Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s portrait is an artist’s perspective of an individual and a country in crisis. ERASE AND FORGET explores the implications on a personal and collective level of identities founded on a profound, even endemic violence. It examines the propagation of that violence through Hollywood and the mass media, the arms trade and ongoing governmental policy.
Deploying confessional and exploratory interviews, news and cultural footage, creative re-enactment and previously unseen archive material, the film proposes a multi-layered investigation of war as a social structure, a way of being for individuals and countries in what is becoming an era of ‘permanent conflict’.
Moving far beyond political reportage or investigation, necessary as they are, lies a compelling enquiry into the nature of human conscience and the limits of deniability (whether to oneself or others). When redemption is no longer an option, the psyche needs to find other ways to live with itself. ERASE AND FORGET asks what those ways might be. It looks into the heart of darkness; it looks for slivers of light.
ERASE AND FORGET screened at Berlin and London Film Festivals in 2017, and was nominated for Glashütte Original Documentary Award.