WMD (Cert 12A), directed by David Holroyd

In 2007 a collection of surveillance tapes, CCTV and hidden footage was sent to us anonymously. The past year has been spent piecing their story together. What follows is a result of that work.


So begins David Holroyds debut feature film – an unsettling, low-budget thriller about the weapons of mass destruction controversy in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Filmed on location in London, Rome, Berlin and Washington, the narrative follows Alex Morgan, a desk officer with MI6, who stumbles across evidence that exposes the US/UKs own intelligence on Iraqs weapons programmes as wholly fabricated.


If all this sounds familiar, thats because the film, while fictional, is very much based on real events and facts and documents in the public domain. Curveball, the Downing Street Memo, the plagerised dossier and the Niger uranium forgeries – all play a central role. In addition damning news footage of George Bush, Tony Blair and Colin Powell making the case for war is interspersed throughout the story providing the real world backbone to Morgan’s increasingly important discoveries.


As intimated above, Holroyd, whose previous directing experience includes Hollyoaks, Footballers Wives and The Bill, shot the whole film on shaky surveillance and CCTV cameras. The meetings that decide the fate of an entire nation take place in the most ordinary of places – in the back of taxis, a café in Euston station, the British Film Institutes bar and, in one instance, on a plane.


Played by the accomplished but unknown Simon Lenegan, Morgan is an all to familiar family man who is trying to balance his increasingly stressful professional work with the mundanity of his home life. An composite of various people involved with the intelligence gathering against Iraq, the most obvious model for Morgan is the whistleblower Dr David Kelly. In many ways Morgan is the perfect employee – conscientious and hardworking, simply trying to discover the truth and do the right thing. But this is the British intelligence services in 2002/03, and as George Orwell famously said in times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. 


In a recent interview Holroyd noted he didnt want WMD to be a documentary, but to be a drama.. I didnt want the film to be a polemic.  Despite this, occasionally there is a sense of explanations shoe-horned in to script more for the audiences benefit, than for the characters doing the talking. However, this is a minor criticism – Holroyd has brilliantly synthesised a complex and confusing topic in to an engrossing 88-minute movie. 


With the official Iraq inquiry set to start later this month,WMD is a timely reminder that the present Labour Government was involved in perhaps the biggest conspiracy against the British people in recent history. A conspiracy, let’s not forget, that has led to over one million Iraqi dead if a January 2008 Opinion Business Research survey is to be believed. Guerrilla film-making at its very best, WMD brings to mind the DIY-feel of The Blair Witch Project, the ultra-modern politics of In The Loop and the subterfuge of Smileys People. Astonishing.


The next screening of WMD will be at Clapham Picturehouse in south London on 5 January 2010. The film is currently available to view on iTunes, Amazon and Lovefilm.  For more information visit http://www.wmd-insidestory.com.


*Ian Sinclair is a freelance writer based in London, UK. [email protected].


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