A sobering reminder of the corruption of absolute power (Variety)
Remarkable, chilling, impossible not to watch ... apocalyptic, stunning
Dense ... powerful ... masterful (The Guardian)
Fascinating, supremely well-researched
(The Spectator)


Co-producer Michael Chrisman Line producer Diane Cherry Editor & additional photography (Libya) Edward Radford Archive producers Jacqui Edwards James Barker Post production supervisor Charlie Jordan Production Wolf Gebhardt Sam Ntale Nidal Younes Jim Hougan David Marks Head of Operations Fresh One Jo Ralling Executive Producers BBC Storyville Nick Fraser Kate Townsend Executive Producer Roy Ackerman A Fresh One Production for BBC Storyville & Showtime



Christopher Olgiati is an award-winning television director, writer and producer.
Most of his career has been with the BBC in London.

Reviewers found BLACK BEACH: Simon Mann's African Coup, for BBC and WNET/PBS, "wonderfully made - crisp, fast, thrilling ... thoughtful and thought-provoking, in the spirit of the best documentaries ... a masterclass in storytelling ... as exciting as any Hollywood movie."

Sinatra: Dark Star, for BBC ONE and French, German and U.S. co-producers, was "stylish … superb … magnificent in detail and execution, a thrilling, noireish festival," according to the British press. Watch TRAILER (continue > featured projects)

Critics called Nazi Gold, about Holocaust survivors' search for money missing in Swiss banks, "profoundly moving ... majestically directed ... explosive ... stunning ... monumental."

The Nightrider (U.S. title Southern Justice), for the BBC and HBO, about the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, won two CableACE awards in Los Angeles and the Grand Prize and Gold Medal at the New York Festival. Reviewers found it "superb... literally devastating ... potent ... seductive ... spine-tingling ... fascinating ... a brooding, moody gem."

Other films include We Can Keep You Forever, about American POWs left behind in Vietnam, also awarded the Grand Prize in New York; Two Weeks in Winter, a drama set in Poland before the fall of communism starring Britain's Jonathan Pryce ("compelling, moving docudrama," according to the New York Times); and Marilyn Monroe: Say Goodbye to the President - now reversioned - for BBC, CTV Canada, Network Ten Australia and TBS Tokyo. Critics said it was "filmed with brilliance ... brilliantly directed ... slicker than Crisco on glass."

To the London Daily Telegraph, The Dream Dealer, for the BBC and WGBH, about the worldwide hunt for drug dealer Howard Marks, was "the most exhilarating documentary of the year." British and American critics saw "dazzlingly-good imagery ... globe-trotting filmic virtuosity." It was "cinematic, stunning ... (Olgiati is) one of our most stylish television directors."

Mafia Wars, co-produced by the BBC and CBS, the story of the Mafia's 'Godfather of Two Worlds,' seen in the U.S. and thirty-eight other countries, was to the London Times "a triumph,"  and to the Los Angeles Times "a showcase of dazzling  documentary form." Other critics found it "immensely stylish ...  stunning ... TV history in the making ... extraordinary and  fascinating ... highly original ... roller coaster entertainment, a Hollywood calling card."


Frank Sinatra was the essence of cool - the first pop idol, the first entertainer to trigger mass hysteria. He seduced impossibly gorgeous women. He was an American icon.

But his career was partly made - and nearly broken - by the Mafia. He was closer to Mafia chiefs than almost anyone imagined. In his glamorous heyday, Sinatra was courted by politicians. The mob saw him as a potential link to the White House. Bitterly disappointed when he failed to get JFK to go easy on organised crime, they sent him the severed, bloody head of a lamb. Did such a supremely talented man really need the dark power of the Mafia? For decades, Sinatra tried to hide his ties to the mob. This is the story that in his lifetime could never have been told.

To the press, DARK STAR was "wonderfully atmospheric ... magnificent in detail and execution, a thrilling, noireish festival."

"Christopher Olgiati's superb film ... compelling, stylish ... feels like a movie ..." (Broadcast, London)

US Producer David Marks Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Dan Coplan Film Research Stuart McKay & Tony Dalton Line Producer Catharine Alen-Buckley Co-Production Executive Sue Temple Executive Producers for the BBC Jacquie Hughes Krishan Arora Executive Producers Clive Syddall William Cran


Equatorial Guinea, West Africa: the world's newest, least understood oil state ...

A failed coup attempt ... a British mercenary in a grim African prison ... a president accused by the West of torture ... and beneath it all, a spectacular underwater oil reserve that the world's major powers would love to get their hands on.

It may sound like fiction but it's the real-life intrigue behind BLACK BEACH: Simon Mann's African Coup, for BBC4's Storyville, PBS/WNET, BBC Worldwide and VPRO Holland. Researched and filmed over eighteen months, the film offers a unique look inside a country that rarely allows in foreign media.

The story begins in 2003, when a group of mercenaries, headed by ex SAS officer Simon Mann, plan to invade Equatorial Guinea and steal its oil. Rightly or wrongly, they believe they have the backing of Western governments and are doing what the great powers secretly want. If they succeed, they expect to be as rich as the country's president,Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has magnificent palaces paid for with oil money and a $50 million jet. But they fail.

When Mann is sentenced to 34 years in Equatorial Guinea's Black Beach jail, he claims to be part of a Western plot to grab the country's vast oil resources. The film travels from South Africa to Spain, from London to Washington, to find out if Western countries knew about the coup in advance and if so why they did nothing to stop it.

Hungry for African resources, China takes advantage of Obiang's rift with the US. A new capital city rises from the jungle, built by the Chinese. Obiang expertly plays East against West. The winners in the affair are not the mercenaries or the Western countries that turned a blind eye, but Obiang and his new best friends the Chinese. BLACK BEACH sheds light on the uncomfortable realities of 21st century oil politics.

Making the film ...

US/UK/Irish/Canadian press: "Wonderfully made - crisp, fast, thrilling from start to finish but thoughtful and thought provoking, in the spirit of the best documentaries ... as exciting as any Hollywood movie ... the best programme of the week ... meticulous analysis ... a masterclass in storytelling ... a big, intriguing documentary."

Twitter ...

A A Gill, London Sunday Times:

The best programme of the week was Black Beach: Simon Mann’s African Coup, from the increasingly fine Storyville documentary strand. Mann’s is the interview everyone wants, and it was unclear when this one was made. While he was still in prison, or after his pardon? I assume before his return to England, because there is no film of him here, and he’s still eagerly ratting on his mates and self-justifying. But it doesn’t really matter, because this documentary was much more an exposé of Equatorial Guinea than of the flaccid “wonga coup”. But it revolved around Mann, so let’s start with him.

A strange bloke, a minimalist, someone who copes by making everything smaller, by pretending troubles are negligible and consequences unimportant. He talks about a gentlemanly coup; the only thing that was bigged up was the money, the gain and Mark Thatcher’s responsibility. Every public school dorm has a miserable child like Mann in it, someone who has to cope with the constant dull pain of unhappiness by simply pretending it’s not there, or not very important. They talk like characters from John Buchan novels, chuckling with an exaggerated insouciance. It fools only Americans, and themselves.

Mann’s inability to find the emotion or the language to match the powerless result of his grubby and immoral enterprise was telling and pathetic. This was a man who had a son he’d never seen, might never see; who had caused the torture and anguish of men who trusted him. Yet still he was more concerned with the light delivery of Wodehousian platitudes. There was one moment when he said that the hard thing, the moral thing, would have been to call off the whole shooting match, but he wasn’t able to do that, he wasn’t that brave. So there he was, a weak fact-dodger with a hernia.

The rest of the story was far more exciting — the sorry state of Equatorial Guinea: its vast oil wealth; the family who have run it with witchcraft, Catholicism and cruelty; the American oil companies, with their easy bribery and stomach-churning flattery; the banks who greased it; the buccaneering greed of the Chinese. While, all along, the constant poverty of the Guineans hasn’t changed, and the standard of healthcare and education has actually fallen since the oil bonanza.

You realise that Mann and his Gilbert-and-Sullivan army and Mark Thatcher were hopeless amateur stooges; all the others dabbling in this benighted country were far more frightening and professional mercenaries than Mann and his wild ducklings. They were old Africa hands playing old colonial games when everyone else has moved on. The time when dull white adventurers can scamper around Africa collecting barroom anecdotes and thick livers has long gone. Mann was lucky to get away with his telltale lily-white skin. Postcolonial Africa could eat him for breakfast; in Equatorial Guinea, quite literally.

Editor Edward Radford Archive Research Alex Buxton Consultants Mark Hollingsworth Alex Yearsley Camera Jeremy Pollard (Equatorial Guinea) Andrew James (South Africa) Elliot Klayman (USA) Camera Assistant (Equatorial Guinea) Nathan Kendall Senior Associate Producer Michael Chrisman For Fresh One Production Manager Isabel Davis Head of Operations Jo Ralling Executive Producer Roy Ackerman For BBC Storyville Executive Producer Greg Sanderson Series Editor Nick Fraser For WNET Wide Angle Story Producer Jeff Seelbach Senior Producer Nina Chaudry Executive Producer Tom Casciato For VPRO Executive Producers Jos de Putter, Doke Romejin


Did a best-selling author fake his story of a horrifying childhood in Nazi concentration camps? Binjamin Wilkomirski claimed to be the child victim of medical experiments by Dr. Mengele. In Auschwitz and Majdanek, he had seen horrors beyond imagination: starving babies eating their own fingers. His book, Fragments, translated into twelve languages, was hailed as a classic of Holocaust literature.

Until another writer began to probe his past. Far from being a hero, he suspected, Wilkomirski was a fraud. He had invented his whole story. He had only ever been to Auschwitz as a tourist. He wasn't even Jewish.

Who was telling the truth? Wilkomirski angrily insisted his memories were real. In Latvia, Poland, Switzerland and the United States, Truth & Lies unravelled the mysterious past of Binjamin Wilkomirski, a victim on trial.

To TV critics, it was "absolutely riveting ... powerful ... tremendous ... enthralling ... (exposing) one of the great deceptions of our age."

More about Truth & Lies ...

Truth & Lies won film editor Malcolm Daniel a BAFTA award and was nominated for Prix Italia and IDFA Amsterdam.

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Milivoj Ivkovic, Allan Palmer, Martin Patmore Unit Manager Bhupinder Kohli Production Manager Di Cherry Producer Switzerland Wolf Gebhardt Co-producer Sue Summers Executive Producer Olivia Lichtenstein


  • An updated version of Marilyn Monroe: Say Goodbye to the President has been released in the U.S.

"Dazzling and fascinating" (Hollywood Reporter)

Say Goodbye to the President tells how organised crime figures circled Marilyn in the months before she died, bugging her phone, looking for evidence of her involvement with Jack and Bobby Kennedy.

"There isn't a story in the last fifty years to better this tale of passion and politics, pride and prejudice" (Daily Mail, London)

For the Mafia, the "Marilyn tapes" would be ammunition against the Kennedy White House. Say Goodbye reconstructs the last hours of Marilyn's life, and the strange delay between the discovery of her body and Peter Lawford's call to police.

"Filmed with a brilliance that gives the film its chief appeal ... Olgiati has found a visual style somewhere between animation and actuality - a finger dialling, pink lips whispering" (The London Times)

With evidence from those closest to Marilyn and the Kennedys, the film shows that Bobby Kennedy visited Marilyn on the afternoon of her death, and that Lawford's delay in alerting the police was to give the President's brother time to leave Los Angeles.

"Absolutely riveting" (Daily Express, London)

Say Goodbye to the President remains a definitive account of an extraordinary time. As Variety put it, the film is "cast with legendary figures, all of whom met terrible deaths that remain shrouded in mystery."

"If your schedule for the next 23 years allows but one documentary, make it this one" (New York Newsday)

Film Editor Ian Callaway Camera Martin Patmore Design Joanna Ball Consultant Tony Summers Executive Producer (U.S.) Ted Landreth Executive Producer (BBC) George Carey


A bank guard flees Switzerland in fear of his life ... Auschwitz survivors accuse Swiss banks of stealing their birthright ... a frightened witness claims Swiss involvement in the Holocaust ...

Nazi Gold, for BBC and PBS, controversially examined Switzerland's relationship with Nazi Germany, and why it turned Jewish refugees into the arms of the SS.

U.K. critics called it "monumental ... overwhelming ... stylish ... an outstanding documentary." It was "muscular, expressionistic, moving and compelling," a film of "bleak power, shadows, dark and hidden deeds ... sparse and terrible." It had "shattering clarity ... wonderful regard for the rules of evidence."

U.S. papers agreed: Nazi Gold was "chilling ... vivid ... compelling ... skilled ... haunting ... riveting."

More about Nazi Gold ...

A Swiss politician says attacks on Nazi Gold are based on 'myth' ...

U.S. viewer response ...

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Matthias Kalin, Milivoj Ivkovic, Jeremy Pollard Unit Manager Bhupinder Kohli Production Manager Louise McLean Research Peter Kamber, Itamar Levin, Hans Stutz Associate Producer David Marks Executive Producer Olivia Lichtenstein



Hidden in a honeysuckle bush, a gunman waits for his target: civil rights leader Medgar Evers ...

He squeezes the trigger and watches Evers fall. Then he vanishes into the night. It is June 1963, in Mississippi.

Evers' widow accuses white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith of the murder. For thirty years, she hunts Beckwith and monitors his rantings: 'God put the white man on earth to rule over the dusky races.' She watches a Mississippi court let Beckwith go free, and discovers how top state officials secretly helped him. The Nightrider tells the story of Medgar Evers, who dared defy the hooded nightriders of the Ku Klux Klan, and of a murder that - by reviving the ghosts of the past - puts modern Mississippi to the test.

"Chilling ... spine-tingling ... fascinating ... a brooding, moody gem ... dazzling, amazing ... southern gothic, full of menace" (U.S./U.K. press)

"Riveting: passion, history and amazing characters" (TV Guide, U.S.)

More about The Nightrider/Southern Justice ...

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Robert Perrin, Bob Newcomb Producer Mississippi Elaine Davenport Executive Producer (HBO) Sheila Nevins Executive Producer (BBC) Paul Hamann



HOWARD MARKS. Alias Mr Nice. Drugs trafficker. Fugitive. Attended Balliol College, Oxford. Famous for his Elvis Presley impression ...

Marks is an underworld myth. For years he has eluded the law. His wealth and charm are legendary. He is untouchable: a middle-class outlaw.

He comes to obsess, and repel, Craig Lovato of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Lovato tracks him from Madrid to Manila. He persuades Lord Anthony Moynihan, a renegade English peer who runs massage parlours in steamy Asian cities, to betray Marks by recording their private conversations on a hidden tape recorder.

"Mr Nice" is trapped, but the $100 million fortune the DEA believes he has stashed in offshore bank accounts eludes them.

"The most exhilarating documentary of the year" (Daily Telegraph, London)

To reviewers, The Dream Dealer was a "dramatic success ... unmissable ... compulsive, riveting, meticulous ... a dilly of a thriller ... an exemplary combination of journalistic expertise and technical brilliance."

British and American critics saw "dazzlingly-good imagery ... globe-trotting filmic virtuosity." It was a "masterful piece of economical yet versatile writing ... cinematic, stunning ... (Olgiati is) one of our most stylish television directors."

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Production Assistant Shirley Whitton Camera Chris Hooke, Martin Patmore Consultants Paul Eddy, Sara Walden Executive Producer Paul Hamann


At the lowest point of his campaign to win the Democratic nomination, Bill Clinton, Governor of Arkansas, faces an agonising decision: whether to execute a man on death row whose brain injury has left him with the mind of a child. Rickey Ray Rector howls like a dog, and believes that chickens and alligators are invading his cell. Just before the New Hampshire primary, Rector is executed. His family insists it is "so Clinton can send a signal: that he's tough on crime."

"Pulsating film by a stylish master of the genre" (The Times, London)

"Potent ... fascinating ... elegant ... compelling" (U.K. press)

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Production Assistant Julia Burrows Camera Allan Palmer Producer Arkansas Stephanie Slewka Executive Producer Steve Hewlett


The son of wealthy, middle-class parents, Michael Townley is an unlikely assassin. Yet he serves a secret police organisation as ruthless as the Gestapo, and pursues his victims through Europe and the Americas. To catch him, the FBI mounts its biggest-ever international manhunt. In the words of his FBI nemesis, Townley is "the perfect assassin, the very essence of evil ... a man so blindly obedient he will kill anyone, anywhere, without hesitation." Townley is an agent of DINA, the secret police of Chile. His target is a foe of General Pinochet, exiled in Washington DC. He enters the United States with Nazi nerve gas hidden in a bottle of Chanel Number Five ...

"Astonishing ... haunting ... remarkable" (U.K./U.S. press)

"The images in this film stayed in the retina long after the programme was over" (Daily Telegraph, London)

Film Editor Philip Kloss Camera Brian Sewell, Robert Perrin, Bob Newcomb Production Assistant Julia Burrows Producer, Paladin Pictures Clive Syddall Executive Producer Steve Hewlett


As the trade union Solidarity struggles against the government in Poland, authorities impose martial law: "a state of war." At the Wujek coalmine in Katowice, the miners' leader is arrested. Helped by a priest (played by Britain's Jonathan Pryce), the miners rebel and barricade themselves in. ZOMO riot police attack. Tanks smash through the mine walls and crush the barricades. Seven men are shot, but Solidarity survives ...

"Compelling, moving docudrama" (The New York Times)

"Ambitious ... harrowing ... totally convincing" (The Times, London)

"Docudrama comes of age" (The Guardian, London)

Film Editor Ian Callaway Camera Colin Munn Producer Frank Cox Executive Producer George Carey



False Witness

Reenactment of the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case. Did the Green Beret doctor stab his wife and young daughters to death, or - as MacDonald claims - did a murderous hippy gang on LSD invade his quarters at Fort Bragg, home of the Special Forces? False Witness explores the era of Vietnam, satanic cults and Charles Manson, when hippies joined soldiers home from the war to create a bizarre and violent drug culture at the gates of Fort Bragg.

"Inspired film-making ... shades of Capote's In Cold Blood haunt Christopher Olgiati's stylish film ... fluid ... fascinating" (U.K./U.S. press)

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Robert Perrin, Bob Newcomb Executive Producer (U.S.) Ted Landreth Executive Producer (BBC) Paul Hamann


Sam Giancana: The Gangster Who Dreamed

The story of Sam Giancana, beginning with the St Valentine's Day massacre, ending with the Kennedy assassination, is the ultimate story of organised crime in America. Once Al Capone's hit man, Giancana helped put JFK in the White House, and - his family claims - later felt so betrayed by the President that he took part in a Mafia plot to kill him ...

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Robert Perrin Producer New York Richard Brereton Production Manager Chicago David Smalley Associate Producer David Marks Executive Producer Janice Hadlow


Mafia Wars

Tommaso Buscetta is a Mafia legend: the architect of million-dollar heroin deals, an ice-cold killer. In a war with Mafia enemies, his family is murdered. In revenge, Buscetta vows to "destroy the Mafia." He will reveal all: the deals, the political links, the high-level protection. For the U.S. and Italian governments, he will become the deadliest weapon ever against organised crime. As hundreds of Mafiosi are arrested, the Mafia determines that Buscetta must be silenced ...

"Showcase of dazzling documentary form" (Los Angeles Times)

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Martin Patmore Producer NY Marnie Inskip Producer Tim Shawcross Executive Producer George Carey


Jimi Hendrix: The Man They Made God

Jimi Hendrix was a black guitarist with a white audience, an icon of peace who once believed in the Vietnam war. Born in America, made in sixties London, he was both star and victim - of predatory promoters, and of fans who saw him as a god. Crippled by their expectations, he tried to escape. But his personal manager brought him back at gunpoint. Night after night, the crowd wanted him to burn his guitar, to go to the edge. And he did, on a diet of pills and LSD.

Before his death at twenty-seven in a basement room in West London, frustrated and desperate, he talked about not living much longer. He yearned to play a new kind of music but fans didn't want to listen. The Man They Made God unpeels the short, troubled life of a self-doubting virtuoso, a misfit on whom others hung their dreams.

"Brilliantly observed" (Sunday Times, London)

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Robert Perrin, Milivoj Ivkovic, Martin Patmore Production Assistant Mark Walden-Mills Producer David Marks Executive Producer Janice Hadlow


Vietnam: Children of the Dust

When America withdrew from Vietnam, a human legacy was left behind: tens of thousands of Amerasian children, fathered by U.S. servicemen. The North Vietnamese called them the "dust of life." They were the unwanted detritus of war, reminders of a time when Vietnamese women sold themselves to the enemy. Vietnam: Children of the Dust follows an American father back to Saigon, to find the boy he never knew. Other reunions are less happy. Some Amerasian children brought to the United States are no more welcome than they were in Vietnam. Spurned by their GI fathers, they are products of a war the U.S. prefers to forget.

Reporter Jeremy Paxman Camera (U.S.) Robert Perrin


We Can Keep You Forever

Were hundreds of American POWs knowingly abandoned in South East Asia? With declassified intelligence documents and evidence from an NSA analyst who chose to break ranks, We Can Keep You Forever challenges President Nixon's bland assurance that "our boys are back home, safe in America." As Henry Kissinger acknowledges, live prisoners were left behind in Laos. What hard information did U.S. intelligence possess, why was the United States powerless to retrieve its missing POWs and why did the White House hide the truth?

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Chris Hooke, Robert Perrin Executive Producer (U.S.) Ted Landreth Executive Producer (BBC) George Carey



Storm is a leading-edge London model agency. On the eve of New York Fashion Week, teenage hopefuls are dispatched to Manhattan where in the space of a few days careers will be made or broken by fashion houses and advertisers. Supermodel Kate Moss and Storm's restless bookers unzip the strange, closed world of fashion. A seven-foot male in size-12 stilettos stands ready to teach the chosen few the secrets of the catwalk ...

Film Editor Malcolm Daniel Camera Chris Openshaw, Jeremy Pollard Production Manager Anthea Cridlan Assistant Producer Annie Kossoff Executive Producer Olivia Lichtenstein


OTRAG: Fire in the Heavens

Once, German rocket engineer Kurt Debus served Hitler, at the Nazi Peenemunde V1 and V2 test site. Decades later, he joined OTRAG, a group of German rocket scientists testing space technology at a secret base in central Africa. President Mobutu, the corrupt leader of the Congo (Zaire), sold OTRAG control of an area of Shaba Province the size of France. Aboard OTRAG's fleet of cargo planes, loaded with rocket parts, German engineers would head for a dirt airstrip atop a startling plateau in what was effectively OTRAG's own sovereign territory. There, protected from the eyes of the world by Mobutu's Special Forces, the company test-launched rockets which it hoped would eventually carry spy satellites into space for military despots and rogue regimes, earning billions for its German investors ...

Reporter Philip Tibenham Film Editor Ian Callaway Editor Chris Capron



Nazi Gold press response


"Christopher Olgiati's outstanding documentary" The Guardian, London

"Profoundly moving" Daily Telegraph, London

"Monumental documentary ... overwhelming" Manchester Evening News, U.K.

"This harrowing documentary" Daily Mail, London

"Astonishing accounts ... moving, expressionistic, muscular, compelling" Time Out, London

"Patient ... deliberate" New York Daily News

"Vivid ... compelling" Boston Globe

"Explosive" Mail on Saturday, London

"Majestically directed" Broadcast, London

"Compelling" Chicago Tribune

"Fresh examination of history long overdue" Boston Herald

"Skilled ... haunting" San Diego Union-Tribune

"Riveting ... chilling history; Swiss replies are lame, ludicrous" Denver News

"Sparse and terrible ... shattering clarity ... wonderful regard for story and rules of evidence" The Independent, London

"Harrowing ... painfully thorough" The Observer, London

"Story of shadows, of dark and hidden deeds ... bleak power" The Scotsman

"Hard hitting, stylish" Sunday Times, London

"Stunning" Scotland on Sunday



Nazi Gold Swiss complaints


The BBC did not uphold a complaint by the Swiss Ambassador to the United Kingdom that Nazi Gold portrayed Swiss history unfairly. A subsequent appeal to the Governors of the BBC was also rejected. The Swiss courts dismissed a complaint that the film had incited hatred of the Swiss people.

Letter from Jean Ziegler, member of Swiss parliament; member of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission; professor at the University of Geneva

I found your film excellent, as much from the point of view of its form as from that of the knowledge which it imparts. The information which you assembled is impressive. To my knowledge no-one -- unless they were acting in bad faith -- could reproach you with the slightest factual error.

As an MP and a member of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Swiss Parliament, I have been profoundly surprised by the virulent, negative and often irrational reactions with which your film has been greeted in Government circles.

I can see only one reason for this: the fundamental inability, on the part of many people with positions of authority in my country, to confront the past and abandon the comfortable myths which have until now served as a structure for our shared consciousness.

To raise one point in particular, what you say on the subject of neutrality is of course correct. Neutrality during World War II was a lie: when the civilised world is involved in a struggle against murderers, one cannot remain neutral.

From August 1940, Swiss industry, banking, trade and so on were placed almost entirely at the disposal of the Reich. Numerous historians -- including for example Hans Ulrich Jost -- confirm this point of view.

The rejection at the border, especially from 19 August 1942, and often straight into the hands of their SS tormentors, of about 100,000 Jewish men, women and children, constitutes a crime against humanity. No time limit applies to such a crime.

In the light of the documents and figures available today, there is no doubt that the Swiss financial markets greatly benefited from the laundering of stolen Nazi gold -- including gold that came from the death camps.

On the question of trains passing through the Gotthard towards Germany, in particular from 1943: I have heard it said by old friends, like me members of the Swiss Socialist Party and who at the time were working for the Federal Railways, that these sealed trains had been filled with people. Certainly deported workers, perhaps Jewish people. In any case railway workers were under orders not to let anyone out of these trains while they transited through Swiss territory.

Our country is a very old, living democracy. Today it finds itself plunged into a deep identity crisis. I love this country. I remain convinced that it will succeed in reclaiming and shedding light on its past, and in building a future together with the other democratic countries of Europe.

Your film represents a valuable contribution to the debate currently under way in Switzerland. May I thank you for this.

With very best regards, Jean Ziegler.

A witness in NAZI GOLD, supported by five others found by BBC researchers, claimed the Nazis transported prisoners by train through Switzerland. After the film was shown in America, a PBS viewer wrote

My grandfather died over ten years ago but did tell me of his life in Germany during Nazi rule ... when he died he took with him many secrets, but he did tell me of one incident. He was an engineer, driving the big steam trains that did the transporting of materials to the frontline troops. During the winter of 1943/44, after he had numerous trains blown out from below him on the Russian Front, he was transferred to duty transport into Italy. He told me of one incident where he was taking a human trainload back to Germany through Switzerland. In Switzerland he attempted to abandon the wagons at the station. He was "detained" by the Swiss, put back on his train, and their engineer drove the train to the border with Germany. They released him at the border to drive the train on. He did this (with) three children and a wife at home. He requested and was re-assigned to the Russian Front. He told me that if the "moral' Swiss would do this knowing the outcome, then no-one can condemn the Germans for having voted Hitler into power not knowing what the outcome would be. Starving, beaten people who seek help from a silver tongued devil are innocent when compared to moral zealots who protect themselves for love of money.


The Nightrider press response


"Chilling ... spine-tingling ... fascinating" Daily Mail, London

"Riveting ... passion, history and amazing characters" TV Guide, U.S.

"Gripping, intellectually-focussed, admirably cool" The Independent, London

"A brooding, moody gem of a documentary" The Observer, London

"Dazzling" Did You See, London

"Amazing" The Sun, London

"Powerful ... packs the punch of great story-telling" USA Today

"Visceral emotional wallop" New York Newsday

"Stylishly directed by talented film-maker Christopher Olgiati" Los Angeles Times

"Excellent ... the face of racism at its ugliest" The Hollywood Reporter

"Superb ... atrocities quite literally devastating ... enough to bring tears to the eyes ... tugs at both emotions and intellect long after the film's end" City Limits, London

"Saga of raw racial hatred, simmering in the Mississippi swamplands" Daily Mail, London

"Olgiati makes exciting, atmospheric films: southern gothic, full of menace" The Observer, London

"A potent film, a seductive mix of reconstruction, moody camerawork, blues soundtrack and above all the cackling cocksure Beckwith, defiant ... Myrlie Evers is hypnotic" The Guardian, London


Truth & Lies: Child of the Death Camps press response


"Distressing and compelling ... the final scenes in which two quite new characters are suddenly introduced are one of the most powerful sequences seen on television this year ... a highly thoughtful film" The Guardian, London

"Enthralling ... it'll leave your head shaking in disbelief" The Guardian, London

"A tremendous documentary which crisply and yet almost reluctantly exposed Wilkomirski as a fraud" Sunday Telegraph, London

"Fascinating and troubling" The Independent, London

"Incredible and unnerving story ... likely to leave you dumbfounded ... chilling" Evening Standard, London

"Christopher Olgiati's disturbingly riveting film" Daily Telegraph, London

"Intelligent, unsensationalist ... as dispiriting as it is fascinating" Financial Times, London

"Made you run the gamut of astonishment from A to Z" Mail on Sunday, London


Twitter comments


God. This is just the most incredible story.

Hurrah for BBC4.

I urge you to catch Black Beach on BBC4 on iPlayer this week. Absolutely fascinating.

Brilliant television

Great Storyville last night.

Great doc.

Hoping Channel 4 & ITV follow suit.

Amazing. director Christopher Olgiati is great.


Blood, Oil, Dictators & the West. Simon Mann's African Coup - brutal story, how we get our oil.

Brilliant Storyville documentary.

Excellent BBC4 documentary.

Mark Thatcher comes across as such as nice bloke. Victor Dracula, fantastic name for a mercenary...

Looks great.