The Believer

Director: Henry Bean
Screenwriters: Henry Bean

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


Henry Bean has composed a profoundly provocative and important dramatic feature which questions and shatters the very foundation of one young man's cultural and religious upbringing. In an exploration that goes to the roots of personal identity and self-awareness, director/writer Bean has courageously entered territory which few filmmakers have dared to tread in this gripping story of a young man's philosophical evolution.

Based on a true story, The Believer recounts the life of Danny Balint from fervent religious student to rising star in a neofascist political movement that subverts almost everything he was brought up to believe. In a fascinating series of twists and turns, Danny exhibits all the passion of the converted as he browses militia-movement Web sites, utters hate-filled but articulate discourses on Judaism and its teachings, and promotes the violent attack upon and ultimate destruction of his most hated enemies. When his own suppressed identity seems likely to be revealed, he flees to a upstate training enclave, further galvanizing his desire to act out the vicious and heinous vilification subscribed to by him and his compatriots. But as events ensue and striking contradictions multiply, something in Danny's soul prompts a complex and incredible resolution.

With a uniquely intelligent and perceptive vision, Bean steers us on a course which is both enlightening and enthralling, one which avoids easy psychological explanations and creates an unforgettable film experience. Special accolades go to Ryan Gosling for a stunningly effective performance. The Believer is cinematic truth at its finest.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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