Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Life

‘Denial’ Tells Tale of Historian Deborah Lipstadt’s Epic Fight Over Holocaust

“Denial” is the true story of a Jewish woman who had to prove in court that the Holocaust had taken place, but it also has a timely message for present day society, according to director Mick Jackson.

“Denial,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend, recounts how Deborah Lipstadt, a prominent historian, writer and professor, was sued for libel in Britain in 1996 by Holocaust denier David Irving after she called him a liar in one of her books.

The case was heard in a London court, where the burden of proof in libel cases lies with the defendant, and Lipstadt, played by Rachel Weisz, was called on to prove that the Holocaust actually happened.

Irving maintained that no Jews had been killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz, citing lack of evidence, and he belittled the claims of Holocaust survivors.

The judge in the case ruled against Irving in 2000, finding that he had not been libeled by Lipstadt.

Director Jackson said the film was timely because it was about fighting for truth.

“If you want to draw conclusions and parallels with what is happening in our story tonight and what’s happening in the U.S., in France, in Britain – all of those places where right-wing extremists are taking command of the narrative just lying like one of the characters in this movie does – it’s important. You see this movie and be changed, I hope,” he told Reuters on the red carpet in Toronto on Saturday.

Weisz, who was joined by Lipstadt at the premiere, said she felt a personal connection to the story, because her own parents were Holocaust refugees.

“I felt it was a very important story for the fight for truth and the fact there’s a difference between fact and opinion,” she told Reuters.

‘Denial’ is due to open in U.S. movie theaters on Sept. 30.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.