At Sundance [Film Festival], the producer of the Andrew Nichols film “Lord of War,” starring Nicholas Cage as a Hollywood version of Bout, came up to us after the premiere and said that he feels terribly, as if his film piled onto the world’s perception of Bout as the “most dangerous man on the planet.”
How has your own Jewish identify surfaced in the making of this film?
My mother and father were the first generation in their respective families to be born and raised in the States. My father’s family were Jews who came from Germany and Lithuania in the 1920s. My mother’s family on both sides came from Romania in the 1920s.
‘It’s ironic that a film about a Russian oligarch would bring me closer to my Jewish ancestors’
I had the great opportunity to screen “The Notorious Mr. Bout” in Bucharest, Romania this past year and used the opportunity to travel to my mother’s ancestral village in Moinesti. There had been a thriving Jewish community at the turn of last century that dwindled to none after World War II. The Jewish cemetery there is up-kept by one family — the survivors of the last surviving Jewish resident — and a small team of Romanian volunteers.
My visit was sad but also deeply poignant. It brought me closer to my ancestors and their legacy of discrimination. It’s interesting and perhaps ironic that a film about a Russian oligarch would create this opportunity for me.
Reuters on Twitter: "Who is Viktor Bout? The Russian arms ...
Victor Bout - Jewish International Illegal Arms Dealer -
Victor Bout has been portrayed in the media as a former KGB major and arms
merchant, the most notorious in the Post Cold War era and he plays or played
a critical role in areas where the weapons trade has been embargoed by the
Mr. Bout (pronounced "Butt" in Russian) allegedly combines his legal airline
activities with illegal ones. His fleet of aircraft has been based in
Central African countries, South Africa and U.A.E. of Sharjah. He also
operated out of Ostend, Belgium and he seems to have had connections with
Mexair in Geneva (1989-1994).
While I thought nothing of it, I photographed some of his aircraft at
Sharjah in 1999, but later I stumbled on his story while I tried to identify
some of his aircraft (couldn't, I was subsequently informed these aircraft
were carrying illegal registrations). I became fascinated by his 'outlaw'
exploits and while he was being searched by media and governmental agencies,
he managed to hide in the shadows and continued to run his businesses in
various shapes and forms.
In 2002 he changed the name of his company, from Air Cess to Air Bas, while
previously he had been operating as Centrafricain Airlines and Air Pass.
After Air Bas, he changed the name of his companies again.
While Air Bas (registered in Equatorial Guinea, under cover company CET
Aviation) was still current in 2004 (though no aircraft carried these
titles), his company (allegedly) British Gulf International Airlines
(registered in Sao Tome and a subsidiary, under the same name, in
Kyrgyzstan) was reported to have landed contracts from the US (which in turn
put Western Allies under pressure to get Mr Bout off the blacklists). Victor
Bout gave an interview to Peter Landesman, which was published (in German)
in the S�ddeutsche Zeitung (no.43 24Oct03); it was reproduced on the
internet (link below). Before this interview the only publicly available
photo of him was secretly taken by a Belgian journalist in March 2001 on an
airstrip in Congo. And his only statements had been brief denials of his
role in arms trafficking. He walked out of a CNN interview in March 2002.
The spotlight followed him, a Hollywood movie starring Nicolas Cage, was
allegedly based on Victor Bout's career. Interest by US law enforcement
agencies seemed to fade. Douglas Farah wrote a book about him. And then VB
was arrested in Bangkok, in 2008.
My interest is in his airlines, new names have been mentioned as being
linked to Victor Bout. Has his business ceased upon his arrest?
A lot more information on the activities of this disgusting person are to be