SEATTLE – The movie Denial is based on the true story of Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish Studies who taught her first classes in Seattle.
"I started my academic career at the University of Washington straight out of graduate school, in 1974,” she said. “I was there for about 5 years, and I loved it, I just loved it, it was very hard for me to leave.”
The film focuses on her life a decade later, after she wrote a book about holocaust deniers. One of the men named in the book decided to sue her for libel.
Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz stars as Lipstadt, and Timothy Spall plays holocaust denier David Irving.
"I remember it being a lot on the news, and being very intrigued by it,” Spall said. "When the script arrived, it refreshed my memory and I was fascinated and realized what an amazing tale it is."
The month-long trial was held in a British court, where the burden of proof is on the accused. In order to defend herself, Lipstadt had to prove the holocaust happened.
The case became a legal battle for historical truth, and it's weighty material for a movie.
But the drama is tempered by moments of lightness and humor - many involving actor Tom Wilkinson, who plays a brilliant lawyer with a penchant for fine red wine.
It all adds up to a movie that's equal parts entertaining and important - with a message that extends far beyond one court case.
"It’s a message about facts, that not everything is debatable,” Lipstadt said. “There are certain things that happened. You can debate why they happened, you can debate how they happened, but they happened."
Denial is rated PG-13 and opens in Seattle on October 14.