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THE 10TH DISTRICT COURT: MOMENTS OF TRIAL
aka 10E CHAMBRE: INSTANTS D'AUDIENCES
Cast: Michele Bernard-Requin
Director: Raymond Depardon
Language: French (English subtitles)
UK: 107 mins
UK Release Date: 16 June 2006 (Limited Release - London, ICA)
THE 10TH DISTRICT COURT: MOMENTS OF TRIAL (10E CHAMBRE: INSTANTS D'AUDIENCES), a riveting pageant of human behaviour on both sides of the law, does for the Parisian justice system what ETRE ET AVOIR (TO BE AND TO HAVE) did for education. From May to July 2003, the legendary photographer and prolific documentarian Raymond Depardon was granted special permission to film extensively inside a Paris courtroom, and become the first filmmaker ever to record a unique insight into the workings of the French judicial machine.
From a straight drunk driving summons to the previous night's arrests, THE 10TH DISTRICT COURT - MOMENTS OF TRIAL (10E CHAMBRE: INSTANTS D'AUDIENCES) is a new civic documentary that plunges us into the everyday affairs of a busy local courtroom.
The result emerges as a careful observation of judge, prosecutor and the ever-changing accused, while displaying an unquenchable sense of curiosity for character. The star of the show is Madame Justice Michele Bernard-Requin, a stern but fair adjudicator with a sharp intelligence and - if provoked - a temper. Her interrogations are occasionally terrifying; her compassion, when infrequently doled out, entirely appropriate. Each of the 12 depicted defendants (from the 169 filmed) pleads their case, and then sentences are requested. Later, after deliberation, the verdict is delivered.
The suspense is unbearably palpable. The defendants, be they contrite, defiant, confused or resigned, turn out to be more astonishing characters than any seen in a fiction. Depardon allows the natural humour of the testimonies to shine through without intruding on reality.
Raymond Depardon is one of France's most celebrated photographers. Represented by Magnum, he is also a leading, award-winning director. Alongside the UK premiere of THE 10TH DISTRICT COURT - MOMENTS OF TRIAL (10E CHAMBRE: INSTANTS D'AUDIENCES), the ICA presents a short retrospective of Depardon's other documentary works, including DELITS FLAGRANTS and PROFILS PAYSANS, Parts 1 and 2.