WMD screening – Oct 20th 2009

Writer/director David Holroyd described himself as “outraged” at how little known the facts about the fabrication of evidence in the run up to the Iraq war are. He was speaking at the Frontline Club following a screening of the film, which tells the story of a fictional MI6 desk officer who uncovers the very real plot to justify the Iraq war using insubstantial or forged intelligence sources. 

Holroyd said that he thought most people in Britain, including himself, had forgotten very quickly any concerns about a cover-up and “gone back to watching X Factor.” He said his hope was that getting people to watch the film “under the guise of a thriller would get the message across.” 

However, this blurring of the line between fact and fiction was the source of many questions from the floor, with one audience member pointing out the dangers of people “learning their history from Hollywood”. While Holroyd accepted that there had been “some degree of invention” in the film, he emphasised that all the facts relating to the cover up were “authentic” and based on verifiable sources in the public domain such as the Butler Report, the American reports into the intelligence failings and mainstream newspaper reports.  

Holroyd also described how he was inspired by the ubiquity of surveillance cameras to make a thriller which looked as if it had been pieced together from secret footage. He revealed that for the sake of authenticity much of the film was actually shot using CCTV cameras or small spy cameras.  

Despite his obvious desire to make the facts about the intelligence reports more widely known, Holroyd did make it clear that his primary aim for the film was to make an entertaining and unique piece of filmmaking. “It’s a thriller at the end of the day”, he said, “but if people come out knowing the facts and inspired to find out more, that’s great.”

Report by Kevin E.G. Perry