BRADFORD’S City Hall has a starring role in new Keira Knightley movie Official Secrets, released this week.

In the political thriller, Knightley plays whistleblower Katharine Gun, who exposed top-secret information about the run-up to the Iraq war. In 2003 GCHQ translator Gun leaked a classified email that urged spying on members of the UN Security Council to force through the resolution to go to war.

The film shows how she was charged with breaking the Official Secrets Act and how, despite her life, liberty and marriage being at risk, she stood up for what she believed in.

Knightley saw a “righteous rage” in Gun. “There’s anger, and of course regret as well perhaps, because your entire life explodes, and what for? You didn’t stop the war,” said twice Oscar-nominated Knightley. “And yet, she was right. It makes you question, ‘Would I have done the same? Or would I just do what I was told?’"


She wanted to make the film because Gun’s actions weren’t widely reported at the time. “That conflict hasn’t necessarily had a resolution yet, we’re still sort of living in the repercussions of it. And yet this was a piece of that jigsaw puzzle, that lead-up to the 2003 invasion, that I didn’t know. I felt it was an important story to tell.”

She met Gun and heard about her experience first-hand: “Her point of view was very clear, and I think that’s what I’ve tried to do. But I think the joy of any of these films as an audience is to question, ‘Is she right? Is she wrong? What would I have done?’ ‘How much do we want our secret services to be morally accountable for their actions? Should people be whistleblowing?’”

The Bradford Film Office was closely involved with Official Secrets when it filmed at City Hall and Shipley tax office last year. City of Film director David Wilson said: “I showed the director, Gavin Hood, around City Hall. He talked through every scene in detail, almost editing the film in his head as we walked.

"There were a number of challenges with a project of this scale, especially as it involved Hollywood A-list talent and a 40ft crane to light City Hall from the outside. I’m looking forward to seeing the results. The crew had a great experience in Bradford, I’m sure they’ll be back with other projects. One of the executive producers, Anne Sheehan, will be a guest at the next Screen Talk in Bradford on November 7.”

Also released this week is Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, starring Menston actor Sam Riley with Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer. Sam shot to fame as Joy Division singer Ian Curtis in 2007 film Control and his other movies include On the Road and Brighton Rock.