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MR. DEATH: THE RISE AND FALL OF FRED A. LEUCHTER, JR.

USA, 1999 (MIFF 2000, Documentaries)

Director: Errol Morris

"I sleep very well at night, knowing that those persons that are executed with my equipment have a better chance of a painless, more humane and dignified execution."—Fred A. Leuchter Jr

Errol Morris has an unerring eye for tracking down oddballs, people whose peculiar interests illuminate areas of the human condition, some would say, better left in the dark. Others find in his documentaries the allure and fascination of humanity in all its wonder and bafflement. Nowhere is this more true than in the strange case of Fred A. Leuchter Jr: 'Execution Technologist'. This geeky, bespectacled man in ill-fitting suits is a Morris original employed by the US Penal System as an expert in gallows, gas chambers, electric chairs and lethal injections. Macabre enough, Leuchter's story gets even more chilling when he is engaged by notorious Canadian revisionist Ernst Zundel, a man who has spent years gathering evidence that the Holocaust was a hoax. Leuchter finds himself in Auchwitz—on his honeymoon!—gathering samples for forensic analysis and testifying that the Nazis killed no one! Morris, himself Jewish, allows Leuchter to present his pseudo-scientific babble on camera in order to hang himself (pardon the irresistible pun). A compelling film that shows director Morris to still be a world leader in documentary filmmaking.

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