Face au juge
CH 2008 73'
An immersion in the office of an investigating magistrate where defendants accused of misdemeanours tell surprising stories that are funny yet sad.
Subsequent to indictments and arrests, the examining magistrate deals with the individual cases. While listening to the accused in closed sessions and deciding their fate, he is directly confronted with brutal social reality. The accused have much to tell about themselves: dramas, accidents, violence, conflicts, misunderstandings, thoroughly calculated schemes and brutal, ill-considered behaviour makes a world come alive in the examiner's office, appearing at once absurd, ludicrous and tragic. A human comedy is being played out right before our eyes.
Who has never dreamt of entering the office of a magistrate to steal a few juicy stories about the mishaps of an everyday life gone wrong? However trivial, such misdemeanours do make “outlaws” of these men and women seemingly so normal. Like the fifty-year-old lady who couldn’t explain why she had put more than two hundred francs worth of goods in her bag before leaving the shop without paying. Or the dishevelled man who ended up grasping his spouse by the throat after a violent row but who denies having tried to strangle her.
After the arrival of the police, the complaint and the summons, they have to explain their acts to the examining magistrate. They are often incapable of justifying their acts and words fail them.
These are precisely the words that Pierre- François Sauter sets out to film with his camera placed in the office of this investigating magistrate from the Swiss canton of Vaud, a man of imposing stature who speaks with the accent of the canton and listens all day long to the statements of the defendants. Misdemeanours often caused by great misery: poverty, problems of social integration or marital strife.
Without ever questioning the protagonists, FACE AU JUGE puts a face on the Swiss judicial system; far from the texts of law in tiny print on flimsy paper, justice is embodied in ordinary people.
Visions du Réel Nyon 2009