Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
Original title: Un Coupable Ideal
France/USA, 2001. Centre National de la Cinématographie, France 2 Cinéma, Home Box Office, Maha Productions, Pathé Archives, Procirep. Cinematography by Isabelle Razavet. Produced by Denis Poncet. Music by Helene Blazy. Film Editing by Ragnar Van Leyden, Pascal Vernier.
In Jacksonville, Florida in the year 2000, an elderly couple were leaving their hotel after breakfast when an armed robber took their money and shot the lady dead. That same day, police picked up a fifteen year-old boy who matched the description of the murderer (matching the description in this case being only that he was black, which is how the assailant was described) and arrested him for the crime. The young boy was subjected to a lengthy time in prison as well as a drawn-out court case based on a faulty arrest, circumstantial evidence, poor police investigative work and the general racist attitude that would have allowed him to be considered guilty in the first place. Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s fantastic, Oscar-winning documentary details the entire case from the very beginning until its very satisfying resolution, pointing out the bigotry and ignorance that most American media is desperate to sweep under the carpet but in this case almost gets an innocent man (boy, actually) sent to his death for a crime he didn’t commit. This is the kind of documentary that reminds you why you watch the darn things in the first place. Fantastic stuff.
Academy Award: Best Documentary Feature