Paul Greengrass first came to prominence as a director with 2002’s Bloody Sunday, a forensically factual account of the shooting of unarmed Irish citizens by British soldiers in 1972. Since then, the pursuit of truth and reality has become Greengrass’s calling card, even in his fiction films, and his latest, the Netflix funded drama 22 July, is no exception. Based on the book One of Us by Åsne Seierstad, it recounts the events of 22 July 2011, when far-right activist Anders Behring Breivik went on a murderous rampage through Oslo.
When he came to the Deadline studio with Seierstad and his cast, Greengrass was clear about his motives for revisiting such a recent tragedy. “Like everybody,” he said, “I’m troubled by the way politics of the west are shifting to the hard right, and the rise of the Neo-Nazi right. I mean, today, Sweden of all places—Social Democratic Sweden—is going to the polls with a neo-Nazi party number one in the polls. So something is happening. And I wanted to make a movie about it.”
Nevertheless, he said, he wouldn’t have gone ahead without the blessing of those affected. “I talked to Åsne,” he said, “who’d written a superb book about the events, and then to the families, to ask their permission to make the film. And then sort of the rules were, in my mind, to make it with a Norwegian cast and a Norwegian crew and shoot it in Norway, so it would have that kind of Norwegian soul. Because in the end, I think the way that Norway responded to Breivik’s right-wing terror attacks is an inspiration to us today.”
Hear more from Greengrass and the 22 July team by clicking the video above.