A Compassionate Spy


The Main 2 Sun, Apr 16, 2023 7:00 PM
The Main 2 Fri, Apr 21, 2023 1:40 PM
Film Info
Festival Programs:New American Visions
Release Year:2022
Runtime:101 min
Print Source:Magnolia Pictures
Jewish Interest
Director:Steve James
Executive Producer:Tim Horsburgh
Gordon Quinn
Jeff Skoll
Diane Weyermann
Producer:Steve James
David Lindorff
Mark Mitten
Cinematographer:Tom Bergmann
Screenwriter:Steve James
Editor:Steve James


From acclaimed documentary filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams) comes this fascinating look at Ted Hall, the youngest physicist on the Manhattan Project… and a former Soviet spy. Featuring interviews with Hall and his wife of over 50 years, A Compassionate Spy is a tale of espionage, romance, and profound moral questions.

With America driven to create an atomic bomb before the Nazis, 18-year-old Harvard undergraduate Ted Hall was recruited to be the youngest physicist on the Manhattan Project. But following a successful test detonation, Hall’s conscience was troubled: he believed that America’s monopoly on the bomb would lead to disaster. He decided to start sharing crucial technical information with the Soviet Union. Soon after the war’s end, he met and married a fellow student, Joan, raised a family and continued to do pioneering work in biophysics research, all the while being investigated by the FBI. A Compassionate Spy is both a complex look at the morality of espionage, and a revealing look at a beautiful marriage.

Director Biography

Steve James was born in Hampton, Virginia and is widely regarded as one of the greatest documentary filmmakers of all-time. His impressive filmography includes Hoop Dreams (1994), Stevie (2002), At the Death House Door ('08), and The Interrupters (2010) and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016), the last two of which screened at MSPIFF.