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Posted Monday, December 14, 1998

Fred Leuchter hero in new film!

In January 1999 Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival, the leading film festival in the United States, will premier a new movie by Errol Morris
"Mister Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr."

about Fred Leuchter (right, with Robert Faurisson).
Fourth Floor Productions with Scout Productions, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

THIS IS the first film or television enterprise to which Mr Leuchter has given his blessing.

It investigates the controversy surrounding the former Massachusetts engineer and execution-technology consultant, his forensic exploits in the Auschwitz and Dachau Nazi concentration camps, the world-famous Leuchter Report, and his consequent persecution and hounding out of his profession. Those whom producer Errol Morris ("The Thin Blue Line") interviewed for the project, including David Irving, who was filmed in a two-hour session at Boston, Massachusetts in August 1998, have confirmed that the production team have spared no expense, and gone to great lengths to preserve the integrity of the story.

One of our correspondents informs us:

"The Thin Blue Line" is the title of a widely acclaimed previous film by Morris (released in 1988). Following is an early review on the forum alt.movies that may give an idea of what the "spin" on this project will almost certainly be.

December 2, 1998

New film by Errol Morris - Mr. Death... (working title)

Review by Pat Wells: Errol Morris' latest film follows his proven recipe for documenting the eccentric and the extreme human. Yet unlike the eye-candy and Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, his latest, Mr. Death, is a dark portrait of Fred A. Leuchter, an engineer who essentially grew up working with his dad in a prison in Massachusetts. With only a history degree, Fred becomes an expert on the engineering of electric chairs in prisons. Due to his 'expertise' in electric chairs, prisons all over the country consult with him on other forms of capital punishment from hangings and lethal injection to gas chambers.

In true Morris-form, Fred is interviewed by Morris and these segments are interwoven with a variety of borrowed and not-so-borrowed films and the late Caleb Sampson's circus music. After we think that we know and understand Fred, our seats are violently pulled from under us. We learn what happens when (and Fred may deny this) someone falls in with the wrong crowd. Morris walks the line with this film and it's not so thin and blue this time. However his choice of subject and sensitivity in dealing with it may win him the popular acclaim that he deserves.


January 20, 1999

from The Boston Herald

The oh-so-prestigious Sundance Film Festival gets under way in Park City, Utah, today and Massachusetts has three - count 'em, three - flicks that were shot, or partially shot, here in Robert Redford's indie showcase.

"The Autumn Heart," `Death: A Love Story,' and "Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr.," will all make their debut during the 10-day movie-athon.

"I don't know how many people understand how big this is," said Robin Dawson, head of the Mass. Film Office. "To have one project at Sundance is huge; to have three is unbelievable."

Of course, Sundance is, as Entertainment Weekly wag Jim Mullen put it, the place "where an independent filmmaker can be broke at breakfast, a millionaire by lunch and divorced and on Prozac by dinner." In other words, all the Tinseltown titans are there looking for the next Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee or Ed Burns, who were all discovered at Sundance.

[...] This year, the local flick most likely to succeed is "Mr. Death," a controversial documentary by filmmaker Errol Morris of "Gates of Heaven" and "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control" fame.

It is the story of Fred A. Leuchter Jr., the Malden man who proclaimed himself the nation's leading "execution technologist." Leuchter made headlines a few years back with his explosive report that claimed the Holocaust was a hoax.[...]

The state film office is throwing a big bash in Utah next Thursday to honor the locals and thank them for filming here.

"It's very rewarding to have three projects represented," Dawson said. "It sets us aside as a serious production center."

Watch this space for further reports

Monday, April 5, 1999

In the evening, an email from Scout Productions about their film of Fred Leuchter:

Dear David: -- We are very close to finishing the movie about Fred. We screened the movie for Fred in December and he was very pleased. We also had a screening in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was well received. We are now trying to clear the various film clips that we would like to include in the film. One of the clips is of you and Fred at the hall in London where Fred was scheduled to speak. Thames Television, which has the rights to that clip is asking for thousands of dollars for a (9) second clip. We would like to include this event in the film, but we cannot pay a ridiculous fee. Would you have any footage of that event that we could license for a more reasonable fee? Or would you know of any other person or group that would have any type of video or film of the event? I would appreciate any leads.--Sincerely, Michael Williams

I reply:

I am shocked to hear that Thames TV is asking for a fee from you. They flatly refused our request for a fee for the exclusive right to film the event, which we granted to them in return for a strict undertaking not to reveal details of the location or event to anybody else. Their producer Sushma Puri promptly notified the police about the event, with the desire of securing better newsworthy material, namely Leuchter's arrest and deportation. We made a formal protest to Thames TV about this breach of trust. You might like to threaten to reveal this betrayal of TV ethics, which are strictly guarded in the UK, to them, in your attempt to get them to release the footage., Unfortunately nobody else has any footage, in consequence of our trusting them with the exclusive. -- David Irving (London)

Related stories on Fred Leuchter: the Movie ("Mr Death"):

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