Blix Not Bombs: New Czech doc explores 2003 Iraq invasion


Among the most hotly anticipated Czech documentaries at the ongoing One World festival is Blix Not Bombs by Greta Stocklassa, which premieres on Saturday. The film is built around interviews with Hans Blix, the Swedish diplomat best-known as the UN’s chief weapons inspector in the lead-up to America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. I discussed the film with its director.

Greta Stocklassa | Photo: Festival One World

“I’m half-Swedish, so for a long time I’ve been interested in Swedish neutrality and diplomacy.

“Sweden has a history of internationally famous diplomats.

“And then I think there’s something interesting in this; it’s a little ambiguous, being a diplomat and being able to talk to both the good guys and the bad guys.

“So I was interested in that.

“And as I say in the film, I first knew about Hans Blix from [animated satirical movie] Team America.

“I remember asking my dad, Who is this?

“He said, Well, he was leading the weapons inspections.

“But I understood that he was being ridiculed as well.

“Then of course the war in Iraq is a notorious conflict that, since it took a long time – both the war in Iraq and in the one in Afghanistan – we grew up with it, though not knowing much about it, or the reasons why it happened.

“So of course it became interesting.

“Then when I started talking to Hans I realised that it was more connected to what the world looks like today than I thought it was, which made it even more urgent and more interesting.”

Hans Blix and Greta Stocklassa | Photo: Czech Film Center
Photo: Festival One World

Hans Blix is now in his mid-90s but he still speaks extremely well. What impression did he make on you?

“It’s amazing how articulate he is and how sharp he is.

“Now he’s 95 almost and he lives for it, he loves international politics.

“He reads 12 newspapers every day and so on.

“But then of course he has this diplomatic facade, which took a while to recognize and to try to find ways around.”

As well as getting incredible access to Hans Blix himself, you also use a huge amount of news footage from different countries. How did you find the process of shaping all of that material into the final film that we see now?

“That was a very long journey.

“I was afraid that it could easily become a little boring history lesson, with just archival footage illustrating what Hans is saying.

“That isn’t really what I wanted to go for, but I still found his storytelling intriguing.

“So we went through so much footage. Luckily you can find so much of it on the internet, so we were browsing and found a lot of it.

“And then we had a researcher, so if we were looking for something specific we could ask her.”

A lot of the viewers watching this film will be young people. What would you like them to take from it?

“I wouldn’t push anyone to take anything out of it [laughs].

“But I would of course be happy if the questions that I ask Hans, especially those ones where it gets a little more heated, when I ask him responsibility, about his responsibility or his role in all of this, and how much we as humans can be reduced to doing our job and how much we are taking person responsibility… I would be happy if people were thinking about that.”