A portrait of a secret WWII espionage training ground, “Camp X” drew favorable critical and, for a docu, popular reaction when it aired on Canadian television. What makes for good television, however, doesn’t always make for a good theatrical film. While its subject is fascinating, docu’s effectiveness is hampered by a commercial television episodic editing structure, a lack of available archival footage and the fact that many of the camp’s former inhabitants are deceased. Theatrical prospects are bleak.
Writer-director Jeremy McCormack has thoroughly researched his subject, a spy camp that was a hub of British, American and Canadian activity during the war. Along with limited documents and scant photos, the film includes interviews with a handful of survivors. In theory, pic should be a treasure trove of wartime secrets: Camp X schooled agents in the art of monitoring Nazi activities. It also provided the model for the U.S. spy school and OSS/CIA training ground (now Camp David). Alumni include advertising mogul David Ogilvy and renowned 007 author (and British Naval Intelligence officer) Ian Fleming. Given his literary legacy, Fleming’s story is deeply intriguing, but it’s treated only superficially.