2004 . 9 minutes 11 seconds . Archival Footage
Available on the DVD "Intolerable Questions" at amazon.com
Available for festival and gallery rental through the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
America is finally absolutely safe. This invulnerability ushers in a new Golden Age where she is free to rewrite the treaties, redraw the maps, and remake the entire world in peace according to the destiny and dreams of her forefathers. Using a fascinating array of archival footage, “SAFETY” reflects on the meaning and consequences of total security.
The footage and music was supplied by the Internet Moving Images Archive (at archive.org) in association with Prelinger Archives. These images were gathered from scores of industrial, military and educational films.
Kevin Silva – Narrator
David Baeumler – Writer, Director, Editor, Sound Mix
FESTIVAL SCREENINGS (2005 unless noted)
Cucalorus Film Festival – Wilmington, North Carolina
Filmstock 6 International Film Festival – Luton, UK
Beyond/In Western NY, Albright Knox Art Gallery – Buffalo, New York
Hi Mom! Film Festival – Carrboro, North Carolina
VisionFest – New York, New York
Woods Hole Film Festival – Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Rhode Island Film Festival – Providence, Rhode Island
New England Film & Video Festival – Boston, Massachusetts
11th Biennial of Moving Images – Geneva, Switzerland
Balagan Film Series – Boston, Massachusetts
Echo Park Film Center - Los Angeles, California (2006)
Film Threat - March 25, 2005 - David Finkelstein
(Review at FilmThreat.com)
This film, lasting precisely 9 minutes and 11 seconds, is a meditation on the
spiritual and philosophical implications of the Cold War and its devolution into
the current so-called War on Terror. The film is made entirely from found
footage, mostly black and white footage from US government propaganda films, with a chilling and profound text heard in Kevin Silva's voice-over. Silva has an uncanny ability to exactly mimic the tone of the typical educational or
propaganda film's narrator, while adding a menacing tone which speaks volumes through implication. The text itself seems closely based, at times, on
what must have been the original texts for some of these films, with only tiny
tweaks which give it an entirely new meaning. (Instead of saying that our American freedom is based on the "idea" that each individual's life is important,
Silva says that it is based on the "lie" the each individual's life is important.) The
soundtrack is completed with typical patriotic music, blended expertly with
air-raid sirens and other menacing sound effects.
The film begins with a montage from a film, from the period immediately following WW II, in which the narrator boasts that the era of terror is over, and our
complete control over our own safety has brought us to an "apex of freedom."
The post 9/11 irony is extremely heavy, as we see footage of happy Americans
who "can go wherever we want, without fear of reprisal."
The film takes us into darker and darker territory. It is revealed that all of this
blather about safety is just a "coded message," and that we are now more
vulnerable to attack than ever before. Our post-Cold War position as the sole
superpower makes this inevitable: "No matter how beneficent our aims, our very
invincibility IS terror." It remains to be seen, as we face an erosion of centralized
authority, if it is really true that human nature is innately destructive, and that
our new "freedom" from patriarchal control will unleash a destructive chaos.
"Safety" is expertly constructed, both in the subtle way in which the initially
"reliable" narrator gradually transforms into a menacing philosopher whose
questions we would rather not hear, in the way the archived footage reinforces
the philosophical questions raised, and in the way that the film raises profound
questions without providing pat answers.
The Buffalo News - May 9, 2005 - Richard Huntington
Another kind of narrative is found in David Baeumler's satirical films. His
found-footage piece, "SAFETY," is a sharply constructed film that, among other
things, amplifies the scary artificiality of 1950s "duck and cover" Defense
Department films. Baeumler has the perfect narrator in Kevin Silva. His voice
has that portentousness, calculated propulsion and fake urgency that captures
the mid-century's various phobias. The script is a masterpiece of
mock-seriousness that is both funny and disconcerting in its emotional