Film Series

Denial: Screening and Conversation

November 1, 2016

Is historical truth worth fighting about ? Historian Deborah Lipstadt was forced into an English courtroom to defend charges that she had libeled a Holocaust denier. It became her burden to prove that the Holocaust had, in fact, happened. Does truth matter? What are the limits of free speech?

Our guests discussed the case that was an international sensation and has now become a major motion picture, Denial.

Watch Denial: Screening and Conversation here.

See more from FOLCS here.


Deborah Lipstadt

Dr. Deborah E. Lipstadt is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta.

Her fifth book, Holocaust : An American Understanding has just been published by Rutgers’s University Press. Her previous book, The Eichmann Trial, published Schocken/NextbookSeries in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Eichmann trial, was called by Publisher’s Weekly, “a penetrating and authoritative dissection of a landmark case and its after effects. In its review of The Eichmann Trial, the New York Times Book Review described Lipstadt as having done a great service by recovering the event as a gripping legal drama, as well as a hinge moment in Israel’s history and in the world’s delayed awakening to the magnitude of the Holocaust. The Wall Street Journaldescribed the book as a thoughtfully researched and clearly written account of the courtroom proceedings and of the debates spurred by the trial.

Her book History on a Trial : My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2006), which has been reissued as Denial : Holocaust History on Trial (ECCO, 2016), is the story of her libel trial in London against David Irving who sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier and right wing extremist. The Daily Telegraph (London) described David Irving v. Penguin/Deborah Lipstadt as having “done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations.” The Times (London) described it as “history has had its day in court and scored a crushing victory.” The judge found David Irving to be a Holocaust denier, a falsifier of history, a racist, and antisemite.

Denial, starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, and Timothy Spall is currently in postproduction. With a screenplay by Sir David Hare, Denial was produced by BBC Films, Participant Media, and Krassnoff/Foster Productions. It will be released in North America by Bleecker Street in September 2016. Worldwide distribution will follow. The movie is based on the libel suit David Irving brought against her as a result of her comments about him in her book Denying the Holocaust : The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory(Free Press/Macmillan, 1993). It was the first full length study of those who attempt to deny the Holocaust.

At Emory she directs the website known as HDOT [Holocaust Denial on Trial/www.hdot.org] which contains a complete archive of the proceedings of Irving v. Penguin UK and Deborah Lipstadt. It also provides answers to frequent claims made by deniers. Portions of the site are translated into Arabic, Farsi, Russian, and Turkish. The site is frequently accessed in cities throughout Iran.

Lipstadt was an historical consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and helped design the section of the Museum dedicated to the American Response to the Holocaust. On April 11, 2011, the 50th anniversary of the start of the Eichmann Trial Dr. Lipstadt gave a public address at the State Department on the impact of the trial. She has held and currently holds a Presidential appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (from Presidents Clinton and Obama) and was asked by President George W. Bush to represent the White House at the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. At the US Holocaust Museum, Lipstadt chairs the Committee on Antisemitism and State Sponsored Holocaust Denial.


Floyd Abrams
First Amendment Lawyer

Floyd Abrams is a senior partner in the New York law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP and the author of Friend of the Court: On the Front Lines with the First Amendment (2013) and Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment (2005).

Mr. Abrams has argued frequently in the Supreme Court in a large number of its most significant First Amendment cases.  He was co-counsel to The New York Times in the Pentagon Papers case; counsel to the Brooklyn Museum of Art in its legal battles with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; counsel to Senator Mitch McConnell and the National Association of Broadcasters in a First Amendment-rooted challenge to the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation; counsel to Senator McConnell in the Citizens United case; and counsel to many journalists, including Judith Miller and Myron Farber, who sought to protect the identity of their confidential sources.  He has represented The New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Time Magazine, Business Week, The Nation, Reader’s Digest, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. and numerous other clients in trials and appeals.

Mr. Abrams served on the Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee of the United States Department of Defense in 2003-2004 and as the chair of the New York State Commission on Public Access to Court Records in 2004.  He also served as chairman of Mayor Edward Koch’s Committee on Appointments, New York City and as the Chairman of the New York State Zenger Commemoration Planning Committee. Previously, he served as the Chairman of the Communications Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, as well as Chairman of the Committee on Freedom of Speech and of the Press of the Individual Rights Section of the American Bar Association and of the Committee on Freedom of Expression of the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association.  He has appeared frequently on television on “Nightline,” the “News Hour with Jim Lehrer,” “Charlie Rose” and other programs and has published numerous articles in The New York Times, (one of which was awarded the Certificate of Merit of the American Bar Association) The Washington Post, and elsewhere.

Mr. Abrams graduated from Cornell University in 1956 and the Yale Law School in 1960.  He was a Visiting Lecturer at the Yale Law School from 1974 – 1980, 1986 – 1989, 2012 – 2013, and 2008 – 2009, at the Columbia Law School from 1981 – 1985, and served from 1994 to 2009 as the William J. Brennan, Jr. Visiting Professor of First Amendment Law at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.


Bret Stephens

Bret Stephens is deputy editorial page editor and foreign-affairs columnist of the Wall Street Journal and the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He was previously editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post. Raised in Mexico City and educated at the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics, he lives in New York with his family.