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Denial (2016 film)

Denial (2016 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mick Jackson
Produced by
  • Gary Foster
  • Russ Krasnoff
Screenplay by David Hare
Based on History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier
by Deborah Lipstadt
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Haris Zambarloukos
Edited by Justine Wright
Distributed by
Release date
  • September 11, 2016 (2016-09-11) (TIFF)
  • September 30, 2016 (2016-09-30) (United States)
  • January 27, 2017 (2017-01-27) (United Kingdom)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[2]
Box office $4.2 million[1]

Denial is a 2016 British-American historical drama film directed by Mick Jackson and written by David Hare, based on Deborah Lipstadt's book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. It dramatises the Irving v Penguin Books Ltd case, in which Lipstadt, a Holocaust scholar, was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. It stars Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius and Alex Jennings.

Denial premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2016[3] and was released in the United States on September 30, 2016 by Bleecker Street.[4] It was released in the United Kingdom on January 27 2017 by Entertainment One.


Deborah Lipstadt is an American professor of Holocaust studies whose speaking engagement is disrupted by David Irving, a scholar of Nazi Germany. He files a libel lawsuit in the UK against her and her publisher for declaring him a Holocaust denier in her books. In the United Kingdom the burden of proof in a libel case is on the accused. Therefore, it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team, led by Anthony Julius as lead solicitor and Richard Rampton as lead barrister, to prove that Irving specifically knew he was lying in claiming that the Holocaust did not occur.

In preparing their defence, Lipstadt and Rampton tour the Auschwitz death camp in Poland with a local scholar, while the research team subpoenas Irving's voluminous personal diaries. Lipstadt is annoyed by Rampton's apparently disrespectful questions on this subject, and later is unhappy at being instructed to confine her contribution to the case to fundraising. The British Jewish community pleads with her to settle out of court to avoid attracting further publicity for Irving. However, her legal team has a promising start to their case when they exploit Irving's arrogant intellectual ego to make him agree to a judge-only trial, instead of a jury trial that he could have manipulated to his advantage.

Irving conducts his own legal representation, facing Lipstadt's well-financed legal team. During the trial, Irving endeavours to twist the presented evidence for the defence. Meanwhile, Lipstadt is approached by a Holocaust survivor who pleads for the chance to testify, but Lipstadt's legal team is adamant that neither they, nor Lipstadt herself, will take the stand in order to keep the trial focused solely on Irving himself. The trial takes a seemingly disastrous turn when Irving tries to discredit evidence on the now demolished gas chambers of Auschwitz, claiming that there were no holes on the roof for the Zyklon B gas crystals to be introduced, thus creating a soundbite: "No Holes, No Holocaust," that dominates the news coverage. Furious at Irving's distortions in the media, Lipstadt demands that she and the Holocaust survivors take the stand. Julius angrily counters that this would be seriously counterproductive, allowing Irving to cross-examine them in person. He shows Lipstadt a video of how Irving had previously been able to subject a survivor to an humiliating cross-examination.

Rampion calls on Lipstadt at her home, to explain his approach and his real feelings about the case, which earns her trust. Later in court he subjects Irving to skilful cross-examination and exposes his claims as absurd, while subsequent expert testimony exposes the factual distortions in Irving's writings.

As the trial concludes, the judge disquiets the defence with a seemingly absurd question suggesting he might rule that if Irving honestly believed his claims, despite their being false, he might not be lying at all. However, after an agonising wait for the ruling, Justice Charles Gray rules for the defence, saying that he is convinced by the evidence that Lipstadt's criticism of Irving as a deceitful Holocaust denier is accurate. In the resulting media reaction, Lipstadt is hailed for her dignified demeanour as a respectable scholar, while her legal team privately reminds her that despite her silence during the trial, it was her original writings that countered Irving's lies and provided the basis for this victory. At a press conference Lipstadt generously praises her lawyers for the way in which they had handled her case.



In April 2015, Hilary Swank and Tom Wilkinson were attached to star in the film, based upon the book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier by Deborah Lipstadt, with Mick Jackson directing, while Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff would produce under their Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment banner with Shoebox Films. Participant Media and BBC Films would co-finance.[5] In November 2015, Rachel Weisz, replacing Swank, and Timothy Spall joined the cast of Denial, with Bleecker Street distributing the film.[6] In December 2015, Andrew Scott, Caren Pistorius, Jack Lowden, Alex Jennings, and Harriet Walter all joined the cast.[7] Howard Shore composed the film's score.[8]


Principal photography began in December 2015 and concluded the end of January 2016.[9][10] It was filmed in London, England, and Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland [11]


The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2016.[12] The film was released in the United States in a limited release on September 30, 2016.[13] The film was released in the United Kingdom on January 27, 2017.[14]


Critical reception

Denial received positive reviews from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 81%, based on 94 reviews, with rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "If Denial doesn't quite do its incredible story complete justice, it comes close enough to offer a satisfying, impactful drama – and another powerful performance from Rachel Weisz."[15] On Metacritic the film has a score of 64 out of 100 score, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[16]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Awards 6 February 2017 Best Supporting Actor Timothy Spall Nominated [17]
British Academy Film Awards 12 February 2017 Best British Film Gary Foster, David Hare and Russ Krasnoff Nominated [18]
Denver Film Critics Society 16 January 2017 Best Supporting Actor Timothy Spall Nominated [19]


  1. ^ a b "Denial". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Denial (2016)". The Wrap. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  3. ^ Raup, Jordan (July 26, 2016). "TIFF 2016 Line-Up includes 'Nocturnal Animals,' 'La La Land,' 'American Pastoral,' and more". The Film Stage. Retrieved July 26, 2016. 
  4. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (June 1, 2016). "Rachel Weisz-Timothy Spall holocaust denier drama 'Denial' plots September release". Retrieved June 1, 2016. 
  5. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 27, 2015). "Film Briefs: Hilary Swank & Tom Wilkinson to topline Holocaust Drama 'Denial' –". Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  6. ^ Hipes, Patrick (November 5, 2015). "'Denial' Holocaust-Denier Drama Now Starring Rachel Weisz Acquired By Bleecker Street". Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  7. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (December 9, 2015). "Andrew Scott Joins Rachel Weisz In Holocaust Legal Drama 'Denial". Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Howard Shore to Score Mick Jackson's 'Denial'". Film Music Reporter. June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2016. 
  9. ^ "On the Set for 2/19/16: Rian Johnson Rolls Cameras on 'Star Wars: Episode VIII', Chris Pratt & Zoe Saldana Start 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2'". SSN Insider. February 19, 2016. Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  10. ^ Lawrence, Rebecca (January 3, 2016). "Curl about town! Rachel Weisz's auburn wig gets a little windswept as she pounds the street on the set of Denial wearing a frumpy tartan coat and scarf". Daily Mail. Retrieved June 15, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Roger Ebert - Movie review by Susan Wloszczyna, September 30, 2016". Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Denial". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved July 26, 2016. 
  13. ^ Evans, Greg (June 17, 2016). "'Denial' Trailer: Rachel Weisz & Timothy Spall Spar In Fact-Based Holocaust Denier Drama". Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Denial". Entertainment One. Retrieved October 7, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Denial (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 19, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Denial reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  17. ^ Rahman, Abid (December 15, 2016). "Denzel Washington's 'Fences' Leads Nominations for AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 26, 2016. 
  18. ^ Ritman, Alex (January 9, 2017). "BAFTA Awards: 'La La Land' Leads Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 10, 2017. 
  19. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (January 9, 2017). "Denver Film Critics Society Announce Nominations". Retrieved January 11, 2017. 

External links