Courtroom dramaCourtroom drama

Hollywood tackles Holocaust denial

Hilary Swank to star in feature about Prof. Deborah Lipstadt’s battle against David Irving

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Hilary Swank will play Deborah Lipstadt in 'Denial.' (YouTube screenshot)
Hilary Swank will play Deborah Lipstadt in 'Denial.' (YouTube screenshot)

Hollywood takes on the subject of Holocaust denial as a film about Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt’s legal battle against David Irving goes into production.

“Denial,” a courtroom drama, will star Oscar winner Hilary Swank as Lipstadt, and Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson as a barrister. There has been no word yet as to who will play Irving in the work written by acclaimed British playwright and screenwriter David Hare, based on Lipstadt’s “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier,” about her legal battle against Irving.

Irving had sued Lipstadt for libel for calling him a pseudohistorian and Holocaust denier in her 1993 book, “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth & Memory.” Despite the fact that in Britain, where the trial took place, the burden of proof is on the defendant rather than the plaintiff, Lipstadt won the case in 2000 by demonstrating that her accusations against Irving were substantially true.

Lipstadt, the Dorot professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University, told The Times of Israel that the film’s producers have kept her in the loop and consulted her on many aspects of the project.

Debroah Lipstadt (photo credit: Courtesy of Emory University)
Prof. Deborah Lipstadt (photo credit: Courtesy of Emory University)

“I am very pleased by the choice of Hilary Swank. I think she is a great actor. I love her stuff. David Hare is one of the world’s leading playwrights. They don’t come better,” she said of those attached to the production.

When asked whether she worried that the film could lead to further legal action, she said she had no such fears.

“David Hare has done a masterful job with the script. And the court has already declared that Irving is an anti-Semite, racist, and denier. What more could we say?” she said.

Lipstadt has nothing but enthusiasm for the film. With the exceptional team involved, there’s a chance that one day we could see Lipstadt at the Academy Awards. But that is not what the project is really about.

“The whole thing is pretty amazing and, most importantly, I hope it will strengthen the effort against deniers,” Lipstadt said.

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