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Investigative writer Dick Lehr comes to film fest

Pulitzer Prize finalist Dick Lehr is a fearless investigative writer. He will appear at this year’s Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival to talk about his work, which has led to the production of two films (“Black Mass” and “The Birth of a Movement”) along with two more (“The Fence” and “Judgment Ridge”) that are now in development.   
As a Hartford Courant cub reporter, during the late 1970’s, Lehr infiltrated the Connecticut Ku Klux Klan.  “They (the Klan) were leafleting in high schools and factory parking lots,” Lehr told interviewer Tiffany Stawiarski. “The Grand Wizard, a guy named David Duke, was doing interviews, talking about how he found Connecticut to be a good place to recruit new members. So, I asked my City Editor, why don’t I join? Why don’t I see what’s really going on?”
David Duke boasted to the press that his Connecticut Klan had three hundred members. But Duke wouldn’t provide press access to any of them, not even the leader.  So, Lehr took on an assumed name and landed an invitation to a secret Klan meeting in Danbury, where only about 12 people attended.
 “I got the story,” Lehr said. “That this was much ado about nothing.”  
Lehr informed the local Klan head about his story before it ran.  He described their conversation as “tense.” 
Some years later, Lehr (with co-writer Gerard O’Neill) broke the explosive Boston Globe story that legendary Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger was also an FBI informant — and that the FBI protected this now-convicted killer in exchange for Bulger’s questionable service to them. 
Lehr and O’Neill’s best-selling book, “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob,” was made into a motion picture starring Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Peter Sarsgaard.  It premiered at the Venice Film Festival and The London 

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