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The Goldman Case is an Absorbing Courtroom Docudrama-June 10, 7 p.m.- at Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival

by Rhonda Spivak, Jane Enkin, May 28,2024

The Goldman Case 

Monday, June 10 | 7:00 p.m. | Centre Cultural Franco-Manitobain – 340 Provencher Blvd.

In Person Only

Winnipeg Jewish Film Festival 2024

 

Watching the absorbing courtroom docudrama The Goldman Case, I felt invited to assess the guilt or innocence of the accused, Pierre Goldman, along with the judge and jury.

 

The film is based on a true story. Simple texts at the beginning and end of the film provide some context. In France in 1969, Pierre Goldman was tried and convicted for murder. His case came up for a retrial in 1976, and the action of the film takes place during that second trial. Throughout the film, we are gradually introduced to Goldman’s character and concerns. We learn of reasons the case became controversial, playing into the divide between left-wing radicals and right-wing conservatives in France. 

 

The acting, directing and camera work are uniformly excellent. There is lots to see and hear in this film, set almost entirely in the courtroom. The camera is often focussed on each witness, or the main characters in the action – the judge, lawyers, and the accused –  but there are lingering closeups of other people connected to the case and members of the public attending the trial. 

 

Jury members occasionally ask questions and the lawyers constantly interrupt one another. Strikingly, the judge, a rather young man with intense eyes and lots of dark hair, takes a very active role in questioning and responding to statements throughout the trial. 

 

The judge’s passion is surpassed by the wild, impulsive nature of the accused, who often leaps up and shouts, ignoring the pleas of his lawyers to behave himself. The members of the public, as well, are highly involved. Goldman’s supporters include many young people, who chant “Goldman innocent!” and other reactions to the events of the trial. The prosecution also has a cheering section, albeit a more restrained group that applauds occasionally.

 

Goldman’s lawyers, severely challenged by their client’s outbursts as well as the case against him, drew my sympathy. Their discussions of their own Polish Jewish backgrounds, like Goldman’s, are significant to the story.  

 

Actors playing the witnesses each create convincing, distinct portraits. Goldman explosively interacts with them, and the lawyers’ examinations are pointed and intense. 

 

A particularly compelling character called as a witness is Goldman’s father, honoured as a “hero of the resistance” by the judge. Pierre Goldman was born in 1944, in occupied France, to two Polish Jewish members of the French resistance. In the film, he traces his commitment to revolution to his background, but also speaks of his failure to live up to his parents’ legacy. “I wanted to be a Jewish warrior!”, he cries out. 

 

The Goldman Case provides a window into a turbulent time in the history of France. With complex themes and terrific performances, it is highly recommended.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.