…Cold Case Hammarskjöld (the 2019 doc to watch out for)

The one film I really wanted to see at the LFF – but couldn’t make – was Cold Case Hammarskjöld, directed and written by Mads Brügger. There are many advantages to having Paul (of Screen Mayhem and One Good Thing Podcast) as a best friend, but one of them is access to the press BFI player for the LFF. So yesterday, we watched the doc.

Mads Brügger (left) investigating the mystery

At first, this Danish directed doc seems to have a simple plot: Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Björkdahl are trying to solve the potential murder of Dag Hammarskjöld – the Secretary General of the UN – in 1961.

The two men travel to South Africa to investigate documents and interview potential witnesses. They believe that Hammarskjöld may have been assassinated while en route to negotiate a cease-fire between UN forces and Moise Tshombe’s Katangese troops. The plane he was travelling in crashed in Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) – there were no survivors.

What Brügger and Björkdahl find is something much more shocking – a secret organisation called SAIMR who may have been involved in, not only the death of Hammarskjöld, but many other clandestine activities.

The story starts to unravel. Did SAIMR kill Hammarskjöld? Did they murder a marine biologist who was about to expose them? Were they researching methods of spreading AIDS among the Black population? And who was Keith Maxwell, the L Ron Hubbard style leader of SAIMR who dressed all in white and posed as a Doctor?

Brügger and Björkdahl searching for plane remains.

As well as being a part-true crime part-conspiracy theory examination, the doc is intelligently funny. Brügger uses a small part of the film to discuss his methods and lament over how he thought the film (after 6 years of investigating) may come to nothing…until a few sources blow it wide open.

I won’t ruin it – but just recommend that you keep an eye out for this one. A documentary with a difference. Ok, I’m off to seek out Brügger’s other work now.

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