Harrogate Film Festival's success with event about M15, the Troubles and the mysterious Colin Wallace

Harrogate Film Festival is celebrating hosting the UK premiere of a controversial documentary about one of Britain’s intelligence community’s most mysterious characters during The Troubles in 1970s Northern Ireland.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 3:26 pm
Harrogate Film Festival 2021 - Michael Oswald and his wife Sachi with event organisers Brian Madden and Henry Thompson of Harrogate Film Society.
Harrogate Film Festival 2021 - Michael Oswald and his wife Sachi with event organisers Brian Madden and Henry Thompson of Harrogate Film Society.

Since The Man Who Knew Too Much was screened as part of a joint event with Harrogate Film Society at the Harrogate Odeon as part of this year’s hybrid programme of events, there has been an impressive reaction.

Despite the rules of social distancing, the film itself attracted a strong audience showing who also stayed for a question and answer session with the film’s director/writer Michael Oswald and special guest, writer Stephen Dorril, a recognised authority on MI5 and MI6 and the Official Secrets Act.

Conducted by film society stalwarts Henry Thompson and Brian Madden, their answers were as fascinating as they were revealing.

The Man Who Knew Too Much delves deep into the case of Colin Wallace who worked as a Senior Information Officer in Britain’s Ministry of Defence, in the psychological warfare and propaganda department in Northern Ireland in the 1970s in the pre-digital era.

As part of his work for the state, Wallace claimed to have targeted leafing British politicians and members of the clergy among others in PsyOps and fake news campaigns orchestrated by various elements in Britain’s vast secret state.

The film explores the historical background in the 1970s and shows Wallace's continuing search for the truth after finding himself framed for murder in the 1980s after a falling out with sections of the intelligence community, a charge which landed him in jail before his sentence was quashed.

Oswald struggled to find funding for his film, emailing dozens of broadcasters and funders to set up meetings and promote the film without success.

Eventually, he bought a second-hand Panasonic GH5 for £850 and an £80 plastic lens to shoot the film.

The determined filmmaker set it up, lit it, recorded it and led the interviews himself, including new ones with Colin Wallace himself.

Mr Oswald said: “I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who came to the UK premiere in Harrogate and the Q&A afterwards at the Odeon.

“It was a great opportunity for the film at what was a very well organised festival.

“I only stumbled across the incredible story of Colin Wallace in 2018.

“The story seemed so outlandish it was hard to believe it could be true.”

Stephen Dorril is currently writing a new book about Colin Wallace, someone he has known for three decades.

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