"The Hollywood Ten" was a short film in which the 10 filmmakers blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee for refusing to answer questions denounced Joseph McCarthy and the Hollywood blacklist. Since none of the 10 could work openly in Hollywood, it was one of the only ways in which they could respond to charges against them and the penalties imposed. Predictably, the director of the documentary was also blacklisted.
The House Un-American Activities Committee was formed during the 20th century Red Scare, a period during which communism was seen as an enormous subversive threat to the country. Senator Joseph McCarthy famously persecuted and interrogated many members of Hollywood's community who he thought were too liberal and too open to communist influence. Those who refused to provide information on other potential communists were often barred from working in Hollywood, and eventually more than 300 individuals were blacklisted. Only around 10 percent of those barred from working managed to salvage their careers, often by moving to Europe or working under pseudonyms.
The 10 filmmakers initially blacklisted and featured in the documentary were Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott and Dalton Trumbo.