Previously at the ICA - Films
8 Nov 2015
"We found this film to be epic in scope traversing decades and exploring big themes while revealing intimate details." Juror and filmmaker Dawn Porter
Winner of the special jury prize at Sheffield Doc/Fest
There will be a Q&A with directors Jacqui Morris and David Morris following the screening.
Attacking The Devil covers some of Harold Evans' investigations and campaigns as editor of the Sunday Times, before it was taken over by Rupert Murdoch, and during what many people consider to be a 'golden age' of British journalism. It notably explores how he risked imprisonment to intervene on behalf of the child victims of thalidomide who were being bullied by the drug's manufacturer to settle for a fraction of the compensation they needed.
With contributions from many of the people who were intimately involved with the stories, we hear from figures such Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian and Ralph Nader, who testify to how Evans set an example of how an editor can change the world for the better. But the film concentrates most heavily on a campaign that is cited in journalism schools and media courses as an example of campaigning journalism at its finest:
"When we tried to expose the plight of the thalidomide children—some without arms or legs, some born just trunks—they'd been denied compensation for ten years. Why wasn't there a huge national scandal about it. Why? Because we in the press weren't allowed to comment on a case before the courts." Harold Evans
Risking prison for contempt of court, Evans, along with his reporters and legal team, took up the families cause, and under fierce resistance from the drug company, found a way around the law and began what became known as the 'moral campaign', which, for the first time, let people know exactly how the children had been treated. Disgusted, the public expressed their anger by boycotting Distillers' products. In a single nine-day period their shares lost 35 billion pounds and made them prey to a hostile takeover.
Building on the work of the Sunday Times, the film reveals truth behind the thalidomide drug - how it was developed and why.
Attacking the Devil: Harold Evans and the last Nazi War Crime, dir. David Morris and Jacqui Morris, UK 2014, 99 mins.