Guilty and Testimony: direct accounts of paedophile mistrial and the Second Intifada
by Vittoria Scarpa
"In the last few years, he’s spoken about it a lot. But he has given himself a deadline: 14 November 2011, the tenth anniversary of his arrest. After then, he won’t say another word about the affair. It will be his way of turning the page once and for all". Here Vincent Garenq is referring to the bailiff Alain Marécaux who, along with 12 other innocent people, was banged up in prison accused of paedophilia in the small town of Outreau. What became one of the most serious miscarriages of justice in France’s history is the focus of the French director’s new film, Guilty [+see also:
interview: Vincent Garenq
film profile], shown in the Venice Days at the 68th Venice International Film Festival.
This angry, gripping film is like a punch in the stomach. It stars an outstanding Philippe Torreton, who realistically conveys the disorientation, fear and powerlessness before a blind injustice, just as they are described in Marécaux’s memoirs, "Chronique de Mon Erreur Judiciaire", on which the film is faithfully based.
"I read the book and it was an upsetting experience", said Garenq. "I immediately contacted Marécaux to tell him that I wanted to tell his story, ask him some questions and ask him to contribute to the screenwriting. I didn’t want him to suffer a second betrayal, after his betrayal by the justice system". So, said the director, Marécaux was by his side throughout the entire development of the film, providing him with every possible detail: "He saw the film for the first time with Torreton. They held hands and cried together".
Direct accounts of suffering and humiliation also form the basis of another film shown in Venice Days: Shlomi Elkabetz’s Testimony, in which Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians describe, in a sort of dialogue from a distance, scenes of everyday life, and of daily violence and tyranny, during the Second Intifada. It is a brave and theatrical film, made up of long monologues before the movie camera, where the narration comes entirely through the words, expressions and gestures, with nature as the only backdrop. "A joint Israeli-Palestinian archive of testimonies", was the intention of its director, "for the future, for the generations to come, to lay the foundations for reconciliation".
(Translated from Italian)
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