The Bulletproof Salesman

This documentary should have received so much more recognition when it came out three years ago! Following Fidelis Cloer, a German salesman for armoured cars on his trip to Iraq after the American invasion, The Bulletproof Salesman explores a grey area of war-profiteering, namely the industry that caters to increased demand for personal security in war-torn areas. Cloer has an eerily positivistic approach to his trade, seeing himself as little more than a service provider, albeit one who does not merely sell cars but also “a good feeling” by equipping those who can afford it with means of transportion that offer high levels of  protection. However, despite Cloer’s positivistic (and one-sided) view ofhis own profession, one cannot entirely dismiss his point that while he is a war profiteer, and couldn’t sell his cars without clients who fear for their life the demand is created by others.  Ultimately, Cloer argues, he cannot be blamed for the outbreak of conflict, nor for prolonging it. And other industries, he adds, benefit equally from violence – even manufacturers of medical equipment and bandages. Yet, seeing Cloer state matter of factly, that unfortunately ‘people have to die to improve the product’ one can’t help but feel, that this is not quite such an innocent service provision as he makes it out to be.

The directors directors, Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, manage to portray their subject without imposing any preconception or judgement on the audience and letting Cloer state his own case. After 70 minutes, the question of whether or not what Cloer does is immoral is left open and the audience has to decide for themselves, what they make of him. At times cynical and funny, but most importantly with a great eye for detail and an incredibly charismatic and very eloquent main protagonist The Bulletproof Salesman is a fantastic documentary that looks at the conflict in Iraq from an angle you almost certainly won’t have considered before.  Watch the trailer below.

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