Previously at the ICA - Films

Still: Heir to an Execution

Heir to an Execution

11 Nov 2007

Ivy Meeropol's compelling documentary about her grandparents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, is a fascinating, insider's view of America's most controversial execution and a fierce and compassionate reclamation of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as people. Ivy invites us inside this American Jewish immigrant family and simultaneously offers a complex exploration of the clouded facts of the Rosenbergs' execution in 1953 for conspiring to spy for the Soviet Union.

The Rosenbergs' trial and execution was a murky mixture of Cold War hysteria, internalized anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and misogyny. Ivy seeks clarity by asking difficult questions: "Who were they really? Were they innocent? If they were guilty, then what were they guilty of?" She interviews the Rosenbergs' contemporaries, including Morty Sobell, imprisoned for refusing to testify against them, and Miriam Moscowitz, who was in prison with Ethel. The most intimate and raw moments are with the director's father Michael and uncle Robert, who recount their abandonment by the extended family even as their boyhood nightmare was played out in the national spotlight.

Dir Ivy Meeropol, USA 2004, 99 mins

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