An investigation into the deadly world of germ weapons, Anthrax War begins in New York in the days following 9/11. Anthrax-laced letters, mailed to media and U.S. senators, killed five people and spread fear and panic throughout the nation.
For filmmaker Bob Coen, who was raised in Zimbabwe where the former white regime has been accused of unleashing anthrax against the black population, biological weapons have a deep personal meaning. He embarks on a journey that raises troubling questions about the FBI’s investigation of the 21st century’s first act of biological terrorism.
Coen’s investigation takes him from the U.S. to the U.K. and from the edge of Siberia to the tip of Africa. In a rare interview, Coen confronts “Doctor Death” Wouter Basson, who headed Project Coast, the South African apartheid-era bio-warfare program. Project Coast used germ warfare against select targets within the country’s black population.
Anthrax War also investigates the mysterious deaths of some of the world’s leading anthrax scientists, including Dr. David Kelly, the UK’s top military microbiologist, the Soviet defector Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik, and Dr. Bruce Ivins. The FBI claims - despite the doubts of highly ranked U.S. officials - that Ivins was the only person behind the U.S. anthrax murders.
In tracing the 2001 bio-terror attacks in the U.S. to the heart of the U.S. bio-defense program, this film raises an alarm. These attacks that helped prepare a country for war have also spawned a multi-billion dollar bio-defense boom. The line between bio-offense and bio-defense is becoming extremely thin. Biological weapons research is now being conducted by corporations and private labs without effective government oversight. The international treaty prohibiting the development of offensive bio-weapons may no longer be sufficient to keep the world from drifting towards the unthinkable biological warfare.
Anthrax War was written by Harold Crooks and Bob Coen, directed by Bob Coen, shot by Dylan Verrechia, edited by Rosella Tursi and produced by Christine LeGoff and Natalie Dubois. Executive producers are Arnie Gelbart, Yves Jeanneau and Eric Nadler. Anthrax War is a Canada-France coproduction produced by Galafilm and TelFrance/Transformer Films for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Société Radio-Canada and ARTE.