email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on LinkedIn share on reddit pin on Pinterest

CANNES 2024 Un Certain Regard

Laetitia Dosch • Director of Dog on Trial

"You're always told that the stakes have to be clear, except that in life, it's never like that"


- CANNES 2024: The Franco-Swiss filmmaker explains why she has embarked on a film that is totally out of the ordinary, but highly masterful in its quirky singularity

Laetitia Dosch • Director of Dog on Trial
(© Fabrizio de Gennaro/Cineuropa)

Presented at the Un Certain Regard programme at the 77th Cannes Film Festival Dog on Trial [+see also:
film review
interview: Laetitia Dosch
film profile
is the first feature from Franco-Swiss actor Laetitia Dosch.

Cineuropa: How did the idea for the film come about?
Laetitia Dosch: I was told about a trial involving a dog: the owner was accused because his dog had bitten a woman in the face. I discovered other stories of the same kind and each time, there was a real craze for these cases: people took a very strong stance with demonstrations, petitions, newspaper articles, etc. I thought that if this was taking on so much importance, it meant that something wasn't clear, wasn't defined, about the status of animals, about their place in society. It raised a lot of interesting questions and I thought that creating a discrepancy and putting the dog at the helm could also be a great subject for comedy, that it could be funny. Because comedy is for everyone. The challenge was to make the ideas very clear to the viewer so that the film was accessible and could reach as many people as possible through humour, because it's both a personal pleasure and a way of talking about something else.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Have you done any legal research?
A lot. Under Swiss law, dogs are treated like things, like property. That's why we can eat animals: because we don't kill them, we destroy them, like objects. This struck me because all it took was for the dog to no longer be considered an object therefore it could not be killed, or for the dog to be considered an individual so we could judge it. You should also be aware that forests and rivers now have legal status and can therefore be defended in court: you can lodge a complaint in their name.

Cosmos, the dog in the film, is defended by a rather unusual lawyer who you play. How would you define her?
She's someone who defends lost causes, so that means she believes in justice, in extenuating circumstances, and I think that's beautiful. But above all she's a woman between two eras: she feels that MeToo has come and gone, but she doesn't have the keys to express herself freely and frankly. She's looking for ways to assert herself, and that translates into a voice that goes off in all directions, that doesn't take ownership of itself. She always wants to have a deep voice, a man's voice in fact, to be listened to, to have authority, but I don't know if that's the solution. She'll find her strength through defending this dog, through her conviction.

How burlesque/slapstick did you want the film to get?
I was looking for a form of comedy like in the Anglo-Saxon series Fleabag and Louie, where the tone changes all the time. A comedy that also represents my way of seeing life: I get up in the morning, it starts well or not, and it never ends in the same way. You never know whether it's going to be funny or violent. When you're writing a film, you're always told that the stakes have to be clear, but in life, it's never like that: you have the stakes for fifteen minutes, but then 40,000 things happen.

What about the opposing side at trial, portrayed in a very cartoonish way, who are using the dog’s case to play security politics?
When I look at Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen or Éric Zemmour, they really scare me because you can see them as cartoon characters, as jokes, but they're not jokes. I wanted to show a character who looks like a cartoon, but who nevertheless ends up in meetings (relayed by social networks) where there are lots of people, where people are shouting ‘you have to kill that dog’. It's taking on huge proportions and we didn't see that coming.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

(Translated from French by Margaux Comte)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

See also

Privacy Policy