In cooperation with the CIMADE and the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme.
A SENSE OF JUSTICE
Swen de Pauw
France / 2021 / 97’
Swen de Pauw
In Divan du monde (FID 2015), Swen de Pauw brought his camera into the lair of Georges Federman, a colourful nonconformist psychiatrist based in Strasbourg, and his office reverberated with living pains. His new investigation into institutions, A Sense of Justice, immerses us In a law firm in this same city. There, we can find Christine Mengus and Nohra Boukara, specialized in the rights of foreigners, supported by Audrey Scarinoff and their co-workers.. Stories from their sad, appalling or tragicomic cases alternate with their daily legal work. And as we hear snatches of consultations involving illegal entry or departure, deportation orders, the right to reside or medical assistance, we become witnesses to predictable tragedies, to the administrative or social precariousness induced by such predicaments, and to whole lives depending on court rulings. Implicitly, we discover the absurdity and contingencies of the inner workings of justice and verdicts, the complexity of intertwined criminal, civil, administrative, community or labour regulations, like so many labyrinths for foreigners to get lost into. Swen de Pauw paints a double portrait of clients and their lawyers, which has little to do with the usual theatrics and pomposity of courtrooms. No defence speeches, then, but a tedious, burdensome and thankless daily routine, with piles of files and strategies to implement. There is another theatre at work here: that of a small community of obstinate and determined legal practitioners, who work hard regardless of occasional pitfalls. The film shares a harsh, yet humorous at times outlook on work, on law as seen from the inside, fighting against its own contingencies, absurdities and dysfunctions, not to mention its hidden prejudice. With A Sense of Justice, Swen de Pauw takes an attentive and generous look at this brave little troop of women on the frontline.