For westerners tired of their mundane everyday lives, war tourism offers an adrenaline rush in the midst of the world’s worst conflict zones.
The idea feels absurd. Why would anyone pay huge amounts of money just to put one’s life in danger, voluntarily?
I’m looking for something that is raw, real and rough, one of the tourists states.
Whether it’s Afghanistan, Armenia, Somalia, Syria or Ukraine, in the middle of the battlefield and its rumble, a war tourist feels the most alive. Sure, they are wearing a bulletproof vest, surrounded by armed bodyguards and have a return ticket home waiting for them back at the hotel. To remember the moment, they capture pictures of themselves shooting a machine gun or posing in front of an exploded car while wearing a military uniform.
When the locals living in the middle of the war-torn area encounter the privileged tourists looking for their next experience with a bankroll of dollars in their hands, awkward moments cannot be avoided. For the tourists, the war is something to gawk at, while for the locals, it’s their worst nightmare, which they cannot escape.
The director Vita Drygas is Lithuanian and filmed four different war tourists for seven years. The four sharing their stories are Eleonora, an Italian living in Las Vegas; AJ, a young American entrepreneur; Andrew, a British father and an experienced war tourist, and finally Rick, the founder of the War Zone Tours company.
The film observes the events without asking for explanations. It refrains from judging and instead leaves space for the viewer to draw their own conclusions and moral judgements.
Anna-Sofia Joro (translated by Sabriina Hietaniemi)