The Most Secret Place on Earth

The Vietnam War was the most intensely televised war ever. However, next door in neighbouring Laos, the longest and largest air war in human history was underway, one which eventually made Laos the most bombed country on earth. The film reconstructs the gripping story of the operation and illustrates its relevance to current American military conflicts.

News

  • 10/2011 - Now on DVD: “The Most Secret Place on Earth”

    Recently our documentary about one of the largest and longest aerial wars of history got released on DVD by the publisher [...]

    Recently our documentary about one of the largest and longest aerial wars of history got released on DVD by the publisher Zweitausendeins.

    DVD at Zweitausendeins


  • 01/2011 - Vang Pao passed away

    The Major General of the Royal Laotian Army, Hmong leader, CIA proxy, opium and heroin dealer and one of the [...]

    The Major General of the Royal Laotian Army, Hmong leader, CIA proxy, opium and heroin dealer and one of the most divisive players in the Cold War arena of  Southeast Asia, has died in California, aged 81.Vang Pao was one of the most illustrious and charismatic figures of the cold war struggle between the US and communism in Asia. Vang Pao gave an interview in our documentary The Most Secret Place on Earth - The CIA´s covert war in Laos.


  • 04/2010 - TRT International documentary competition

    Our films THE MOST SECRET PLACE ON EARTH – THE CIA’S COVERT WAR IN LAOS and HOTEL SAHARA have been [...]

    Our films THE MOST SECRET PLACE ON EARTH - THE CIA'S COVERT WAR IN LAOS and HOTEL SAHARA have been preselected in the TRT International documentary competition. The awards will take place on May 22nd

    Link zum Festival



The Most Secret Place on Earth

The Vietnam War was the most intensely media-covered war ever. However, next door in neighbouring Laos, the longest and largest air war in human history was underway. It eventually made Laos the most bombed country on earth. What’s more, outside of Laos no one knew about it.

The Secret War was the largest operation ever conducted by the CIA, yet to this day hardly anyone knows anything about it. Critics call it the biggest war crime of the Vietnam War era and point to striking similarities in the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, similarities that were tested and used back in Laos in the 1960s: Then, like now, the use of private contractors, mercenaries, as well as the exclusion of Congress and the press gave the executive branch a free hand to wage unlimited warfare as they saw fit. During the Secret War, a bomb load was dropped on Laos every eight minutes over a period of eight years – in total, 2.1 million tons of bombs fell onto this small, landlocked South East Asian nation, more than on Europe and the Pacific theatre combined during World War II. Even today much of the countryside is poisoned by Agent Orange and littered with unexploded devices. To date, the country has still not found peace, and remnants of the CIA’s secret army of Hmong hill tribe guerrillas continue to clash with Lao government troops. In “The Most Secret Place on Earth”, key players of the Secret War – former CIA agents, American pilots, Laotian fighters and American journalists – take us on a journey into the physical heart of the conflict: Top secret Long Cheng. Long Cheng was an almost uninhabited valley deep in the jungles of central Laos when the CIA built its headquarters there in 1962. Four years later, 40,000 people lived in Long Cheng, the location whence the Secret War was largely planned and executed.

Yet, Long Cheng was never marked on any official map. In the early days, Long Cheng was run by Tony Poe, who is claimed by his colleagues to have served as a template for Col Kurtz in Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now!” At the height of the war, a few hundred CIA officers and the civilian airline Air America – covertly owned by the CIA – coordinated and supplied up to 50,000 indigenous troops in the field, and the US Air Force bombed Laos back into the Stone Age – all the while being entirely unaccountable to Congress and the American public. As the war dragged on, Long Cheng became the busiest airbase in the world and a major centre for the global opium and heroin trade. Candid interviews with past and present players combined with previously unseen footage from the war as well as from the current struggle in Laos tell a story that hasn’t been documented in history books. As we journey into Long Cheng for the first time – the site has been off limits to the outside world since the end of the war in 1975 – the film reconstructs the gripping story of the operation and illustrates its relevance to current American military conflicts.

Director: Marc Eberle
Script: Marc Eberle, Tom Vater
Script advisor: Maria Fee Wilke
Cinematography:  Richard Ladkani bvk
Editor: Oliver Stammel, Tobias Steinigeweg
Sound: Bert Bartel
Music: Nils Kacirek
Sound design: Dirk Schwibbert
Motion graphics: Marte Engels, Julia Goschke, Tim D. Huys
Executive producer: Christian Beetz
Production manager: Reinhardt Beetz, Eva Rink
Production accountant: Daniela Schöne
Technical advisor: Philipp Weigold
Production assistant: Thomas Fischer, Uta Görtze, Ira Lenz
Location manager USA: Sarah Booth
Location manager Laos: Sousath Phetrasy, Viraphonh Singhavara
Location manager Thailand: Puchara (Am) Sandford, Aroon Thaewchatturat
Archive researcher NARA: Elisabeth M. Hartjens
Comissioning editor: Ulrike Dotzer, Verena Forma (NDR)
Comissioning editor: Felix Kuballa (WDR)

Koproduktion

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Förderer

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  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    DOK Leipzig - Leipzig, Germany
    01 November 2007 at 8:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Filmforum NRW - Köln
    26 April 2009 at 11:30 am

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Kino Abaton - Hamburg
    04 May 2009 at 8:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Kino Naxos - Frankfurt
    05 May 2009 at 8:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Kino Babylon - Berlin
    07 May 2009 at 9:15 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Kino Abaton - Hamburg
    12 July 2009 at 1:30 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Kino Abaton - Hamburg
    19 July 2009 at 1:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Kino in der Brotfabrik - Berlin, Germany
    16 July 2009 – 22 July 2009

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Studiokino Eisenstein - Quedlinburg, Germany
    16 July 2009 – 22 July 2009

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Akademiesalon - Regensburg
    09 August 2009 at 12:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Akademiesalon - Regensburg, Germany
    23 August 2009 at 12:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Orfeo's Erben - Frankfurt am Main, Germany
    01 September 2009 at 12:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    IEZ - Linz, Austria
    16 October 2009 at 12:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    IEZ - Linz, Austria
    21 October 2009 at 12:00 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    arte
    17 February 2010 at 8:15 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    arte
    23 February 2010 at 10:25 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    12. Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival - Thessaloniki, Greece
    12 March 2010 – 21 March 2010

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Tiburon International Film Festival - Tiburon, USA
    18 March 2010 – 26 March 2010

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    WDR
    07 February 2011 at 11:25 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Phoenix
    17 July 2011 at 11:30 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Phoenix
    22 July 2011 at 12:35 am

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    13 December 2012 at 9:05 pm

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    14 December 2012 at 11:40 am

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    16 December 2012 at 1:55 am

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    16 December 2012 at 7:05 am

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    12 April 2013 at 10:35 pm

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    03 June 2013 at 9:55 pm

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    04 June 2013 at 2:00 pm

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    06 June 2013 at 5:55 am

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    07 June 2013 at 11:30 am

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    08 October 2013 at 2:15 pm

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    09 October 2013 at 1:20 pm

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    11 October 2013 at 11:40 am

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    22 January 2014 at 9:15 pm

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    23 January 2014 at 1:35 pm

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    25 January 2014 at 2:35 am

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    03 February 2014 at 11:25 pm

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    04 February 2014 at 3:30 pm

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    06 February 2014 at 2:10 am

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    06 February 2014 at 8:00 am

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    arte
    29 July 2014 at 9:25 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    arte
    05 August 2014 at 9:50 am

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    Spiegel Geschichte
    20 September 2014 at 11:55 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Spiegel Geschichte
    22 September 2014 at 8:50 am

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Spiegel Geschichte
    23 September 2014 at 2:20 am

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    ARTE
    13 January 2015 at 8:55 am

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Spiegel Geschichte
    14 February 2015 at 11:55 am

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Spiegel Geschichte
    18 February 2015 at 5:10 am

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth

    Spiegel Geschichte
    20 February 2015 at 2:10 pm

  • The Most Secret Place on Earth - The CIA´s covert war in Laos

    Spiegel Geschichte
    08 November 2015 at 12:55 am

  • DOX - the European Documentary Film Magazine

    "The "secret war" takes us into the inconcievable reality ofa war conducted in the shadow of the Vietnam war. As the film impies, the " secret war" is an ancestor of today's U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq."