Behind Closed Doors

London, including the "gherkin"

Michael Oswald’s latest lid-lifting documentary, Behind Closed Doors, tells the story of ruling elites siphoning wealth off from developing countries and using it to buy high-end property in London. It is a story of familiar elements – the super rich and the London “laundromat” where dirty money is washed clean, plus an acquiescent British government and its supine crime agencies. Thanks to assiduous digging, Oswald and collaborator/writer/producer Murtaza Mehdi reveal precisely how the laundromat works and point the finger at the guilty. Not all of them – that would be a life’s work. Instead, a select few cases stand for the whole. It is, in any case, pretty much the same story every … Read more

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Colin Wallace

James Stewart? Doris Day? Alfred Hitchcock? No. Instead meet Colin Wallace, a retired real-life spook who got heavily involved in the UK government’s undercover operations in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, blew the whistle when his paymasters started asking him to start smearing democratically elected politicians, then wound up in jail on a ten-year stretch on a confected charge of manslaughter. Strangely, or perhaps it’s not strange at all, it’s a tale from recent history with an urgent contemporary relevance. Michael Oswald’s documentaries to date have all sought to pull back the veil on the hidden workings of the world. Finance was the focus in 97% Owned, Princes of the Yen and The … Read more

The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire

Member of the European Parliament Eva Joly

An urgent, informative film asking all the right questions – or how the rich people stole all the money Here in Brexit Britain we find ourselves in a peculiar situation. In spite of having done pretty well out of the European Union, what with various rebates, opt-outs and special deals, fifth richest country in the world and all that, the country suddenly rebelled, and stormed out of the arrangement in a strop, angry about something that no one can quite articulate – it might be the straightness of bananas or immigrants or democratic accountability, or something else entirely. Meanwhile, the political left largely appear to have lost their connection to their working class … Read more

Princes of the Yen

Downtown Tokyo

Halfway through watching this simple but fascinating documentary, by the same team that made the equally eye-opening 97% Owned, a friend turned up. Instead of saying “How are you?” or “Wanna cup of tea?” (I’m writing this in the UK), I said, “God, I’m watching this amazing documentary about economics in Japan and how the authorities there deliberately sabotaged the country’s economy, and the whole 1980s boom and bust was a fix, and the…” and on I burbled. It’s not the reaction you’d expect to what is essentially a PowerPoint presentation, delivered in steady-as-she-goes voiceover. Yet the story the film (subtitle: Central Banks and the Transformation of the Economy) tells is remarkable, and is … Read more