Dutch doc tackles 'haunting' Russell Williams interrogation

Five years after stumbling upon an article about the police interrogation of former CFB Trenton commander Russell Williams, who is serving life in prison for murdering two women, a Dutch film director is now screening a documentary on the subject.

Fatum: Room 216 is directed by Ramón Gieling, who first read about the police interrogation 5 years ago

Former colonel Russell Williams is shown here being interrogated by OPP Det. Sgt. Jim Smyth in an hours-long interview. The interrogation is the subject of a new documentary by Dutch film director Ramón Gieling.

Five years after stumbling upon an article about the police interrogation of former CFB Trenton commander Russell Williams, who is serving life in prison for murdering two women, a Dutch film director is now screening a documentary on the subject.

Fatum: Room 216, directed by Ramón Gieling, uses footage of Williams's 10-hour-long interview with OPP Det. Sgt. Jim Smyth, interwoven with footage of a violinist and cellist playing an original duet composed by Paul M. van Brugge.

The film's name is Latin for "fate," and Room 216 was the cell where the interrogation took place — and where Williams eventually confessed to the murders and other crimes.

'A horrible truth is slowly revealed'

In an interview with CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, Gieling said he came across the interrogation online and was "immediately fascinated" by it, in part because of how differently it played out from the fiery interrogations often depicted in television thrillers.

"There's no shouting, no accusing, there's no moral or ethical judgment," he said. "And nevertheless, a horrible truth is slowly revealed."


Feeling more like an organizer than a director, Gieling said he felt compelled to compile this "material of great importance."

A pivotal moment in the "haunting" footage came when Smyth asked Williams why things like these crimes happen, and whether Williams spent a lot of time thinking about that. Williams replied that yes, he did, but that he didn't have any answers.

There is this philosophical aspect of Jekyll and Hyde. In the daytime he was a very high-ranked, polite colonel on the base and in the evening he became a kind of werewolf...- Ramón Gieling

"So the man himself didn't know what was happening in his mind, apparently, when he raped and killed, in a horrible way, these two women," Gieling said. 

"In that sense, there is this philosophical aspect of Jekyll and Hyde. In the daytime he was a very high-ranked, polite colonel on the base, and in the evening he became a kind of werewolf, raping and killing women, without him understanding it himself, probably."

The film shocked and silenced audiences in the Netherlands, Gieling said. 

As for whether the film will be screened in Canada, Gieling said it's up to film festivals to extend invitations.

CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning and Halima Sogbesan