7:30 PM, 5th October, 2017
PRESENTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ANU COLLEGE OF LAW
In 1994, accomplished American author Deborah Lipstadt (Weisz) is giving a lecture about her latest book, when a man stands up and loudly interrupts her. Identifying himself as David Irving (Spall), an infamous Holocaust denier, he challenges Lipstadt to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Holocaust actually occurred. Lipstadt declines and promptly has him removed, but it doesn’t end there. Two years later, she receives notice that Irving is suing her and the publisher of her book for libel, on the grounds that her book has destroyed his reputation and ruined his career.
Under British libel laws, the onus falls on the defendant to prove that her statements about Irving were true: that he is a racist, an anti-Semitic Hitler sympathiser who wilfully distorted historical record. Or, in other words, it’s up to Lipstadt to prove in a court of law that the Holocaust occurred – which, as she and her legal team soon discover, is actually harder than it seems.
Based on unbelievable-but-true events, Denial is a thought-provoking drama about the truth, the Holocaust, and the potency of the law. It’s all frighteningly relevant and timely, too, in our age of alternative facts and fake news. It’s also surprisingly low-key, with the film eschewing traditional courtroom histrionics for an emphasis on legal procedure and strategy. A top-notch cast – the always-dependable Weisz, Wilkinson as the defence’s barrister, and a show-stealing Spall as the infuriating Irving – keep proceedings lively, and ultimately do the story justice.