10EME CHAMBRE-INSTANTS D’AUDIENCE
THE 10TH DISTRICT COURT: MOMENTS OF TRIAL

Director: Raymond Depardon

Cast:
Michele Bernard-Requin: herself

Running time: 105'
Year of production: France - 2004
Rating: Not rated
Gauge: 35mm, DVD (color)

Distributor: Koch Lorber Films


“The film, in which Ms. Bernard-Requin dispenses discerning but dispassionate justice, portrays a microcosm of Parisian society that makes the judicial process appear more efficient ... The only voice that rises in volume to the levels common in the American courtroom belongs to a hysterical defense lawyer who stretches logic far beyond the breaking point.” Stephen Holden, The New York Times

From May to July 2003, Raymond Depardon was granted special permission to film the proceedings of a Paris misdemeanor court’s hearings. Similar to its predecessor, Caught in the Act, 10th District Court: Moments of Trial is a unique documentary on the ins and outs of the French judicial system. Depardon selects the stories of twelve men and women and films their encounters with the law. From drunk-drivers to illegal immigrants and violent husbands, all twelve must explain their side of the story to Judge Michèle Bernard-Requin. Some can barely manage a word, while others make passionate speeches about being lawful citizens. For instance, one man, caught carrying a knife in the subway, explains at length his family tradition of using Opinels (specialty knives from a small French town). He proceeds to quote the law to the judge to prove that the size of his tool is perfectly legal. Needless to say, the more he insists, the more Ms. Bernard-Requin becomes impatient. The most heart-wrenching cases involve illegal immigrants and drug-dealers caught in the wee hours of the night and brought to the judge for immediate sentencing. In 10th District Court, Raymond Depardon reveals the class differences and expectations in Parisian society, as well as some of the country’s most pressing social issues.

 
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