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The 10th District Court: Moments Of Trial Review

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Director Raymond Depardon filmed over 200 misdemeanor and civil cases, all of which appeared before the same Judge, and uses the footage to explore the vast human constructs of guilt and innocence.

★★★★★

Having already explored the French legal system in 1994’s Caught In The Acts, documentarist-photographer Raymond Depardon secured unprecedented access to a Parisian courthouse for this compelling collection of cases. None of the misdemeanours is particularly remarkable, but each provides a little human drama which generates its own humour, heartache and suspense.

Depardon treats drunk driver, drug dealer, phone pest and pickpocket with equanimity, though he can’t resist exposing the inadequacies of some of the advocates. Yet it’s still clear that this is a society riven with tensions and that the revolutionary tenets of liberty, fraternity and equality are under considerable strain.

Alternately amusing, moving and sobering, this is both a compelling collection of mini human dramas and a rare insight into the legal workings of a society in transition.

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