Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz
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Directed by: Barry Avrich
Released: 2021 (educational)
Year of Production: 2019
Running Time: 83 min
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Jewish Studies,
Barry Avrich’s gripping documentary, Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz, tells the fascinating story of one of the Holocaust’s most heroic figures. Ben Ferencz, age 98, is the last surviving Nuremberg trial prosecutor and he is on a life-long crusade in the fight for law not war.
After the Holocaust camps were liberated, Ferencz became a lead prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. He prosecuted 22 Einsatzgruppen Nazis responsible for murdering over a million Jews. Called the biggest murder trial in history, Ferencz was only 27, and it was his first case. He would go on to advocate for restitution for Jewish victims of the holocaust and later the establishment of the International Criminal Court. His fight for justice for victims of atrocity crimes continues today.
Prosecuting Evil explores Ferencz’s anthem to the world underscored by a simple message: “We must live in a world where the rule of law replaces the rule of force.”
Official TIFF 2018 Selection and Netflix Film
“Self-aware, funny and articulate, blessed with a first-class temperament, Ferencz is front and center telling his own tale, which includes being the key player in what’s been called the biggest murder trial in history.” – Los Angeles Times
“Though humble in terms of production, the straightforward doc contains enough dramatic anecdotes (and, we're required to add, sufficient relevance to current events) that it merits screening outside educational settings.” – Hollywood Reporter
“Ferencz himself, who comes across as thoughtful, principled and engaging in a film that, in keeping with his demeanor, is a modest profile rather than a sprawling portrait.” – New York Times
About the filmmaker
Barry has produced and directed over 30 documentary films and television productions that have been broadcast in over 100 countries, and won awards and critical acclaim. Barry has made a name for himself focusing on powerful moguls and captivating personalities including Universal Studios titan Lew Wasserman, Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein and Rolling Stones promoter Michael Cohl. Barry has also produced several television specials for PBS, HBO, Showtime and Bravo including the concert special BOWFIRE, The Tempest starring Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer and a charity awards gala ( One X One) starring Richard Gere, Matt Damon and Shakira. His reputation as provocative filmmaker was defined when he set his sights on the Holy Grail. Producing a biography on Lew Wasserman, the founder and reclusive powerful chairman of MCA Universal for six decades, was considered career suicide. Wasserman had told everyone that he would never participate in any kind of biography and threatened anyone who dare try while he was alive (or dead). Barry waited until he died and commenced production. In spite of family legal threats and anonymous threats of physical harm, Barry’s film, The Last Mogul, was a massive success garnering rave reviews in Variety and The New York Times. He would go on to produce other highly acclaimed films like Unforgettable, Satisfaction, Guilty Pleasure, A Criminal Mind, and many television specials. Barry’s passionate profile on billionaire concert promoter Michael Cohl put him face to face with Bono and Mick Jagger. Barry went on to produce acclaimed feature films on Winston Churchill, Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and disgraced theatre mogul Garth Drabinsky. Barry has also produced two Stratford Festival film adaptations of Caesar and Cleopatra and The Tempest with Christopher Plummer. Barry has also produced and directed two biographical docs on legendary comedian David Steinberg and Penthouse founder Bob Guccione. His films on Guccione and Drabinsky both had their world premieres at The Toronto International Film Festival.