Films from Tribeca: The Project

Filmmakers Shawn Efran and Adam Ciralsky put their lives on the line to make The Project, a film about Somalia's Puntland Maritime Police Force

    Photo: Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival

Shooting a movie about Somali pirate hunters is not the safest undertaking, and filmmakers Shawn Efran and Adam Ciralsky can attest to that. During production on The Project, a documentary that delves into the formation of Somalia’s Puntland Maritime Police Force, one of their producers was almost killed. Their camera crew was also arrested and indicted.

They all emerged unscathed, though, and the result is a 90-minute film about this obscure upstart military crew. Funded by donors from the United Arab Emirates—an oil nation that has been especially affected by Somali piracy—the PMPF was created by veterans of Executive Outcomes, a mercenary company similar in nature and reputation to Blackwater. The idea is to recruit men from regional tribes and dispatch this homegrown army to locate and destroy pirate bases.

That’s how it works in theory, at least. In reality, the operation is fraught with obstacles. For one, the U.N. denounces the project as a mercenary mission that flouts arms embargoes on Somalia. There’s also insurgency within the PMPF’s own ranks. Results are achieved, though, making this an ongoing and controversial experiment worth examination.

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