In The Goldman Trial, presented at the opening of Cinemania this Wednesday, Cédric Kahn brings to life the highlights of the second trial of Pierre Goldman, a secular Jew and far-left activist, accused of having murdered two pharmacists during a robbery.

Born into a left-wing Jewish family, Cédric Kahn had long been aware of the Pierre Goldman affair, author of several books, including Obscure Memories of a Polish Jew Born in France (Points, 1975).

“I always saw this book lying around my parents’ house, even though my mother told me 10 days ago that they never had this book. I always knew that Jean-Jacques Goldman had a somewhat sulphurous half-brother, that he was far left, that he had a trial, that he had been murdered at 35, but I didn’t know not much,” says the filmmaker who is visiting Cinemania to present The Goldman Trial and Making of, where he recounts a difficult shoot.

Set in April 1976, The Goldman Trial recounts the highlights of the second trial of this son of Polish Jewish immigrants involved in the Resistance. Having declared himself guilty of three robberies, he claims not to have committed a fourth robbery during which two nurses were killed. In the courtroom, the audience is divided. At times, this highly publicized trial at the time seemed to echo the Dreyfus affair, that of this Jewish captain accused of treason, which divided France at the end of the 19th century.

“In any case, it was Goldman’s strategy to be compared to the Dreyfus affair, but obviously, it had nothing to do with it,” says Cédric Kahn.

Alongside the revolutionary who is as charismatic as he is unsympathetic, played brilliantly by Arieh Worthalter, we find three lawyers who will shed light on the anti-Semitism of the police, masters Georges Kiejman (Arthur Arari, co-writer of Anatomy of a Fall, by Justine Triet ), Francis Chouraqui (Jeremy Lewin) and Émile Bartoli (Christian Mazzucchini).

“In France, it’s a taboo subject, but it’s a real problem, racism. And it’s not just in the police. I am always a little embarrassed to be told that the political left, for comfort, for opportunism, for electoralism, always only targets the racism of politics. Courage for me is to target racism in the entirety of society. »

As the transcripts of the trial were not accessible, it was from newspaper articles that co-writer Nathalie Hertzberg reconstructed the testimonies: “We were told that they did not exist at the time and that the court clerks would have started to note later in the 1980s. The film is a fiction, I mean, it’s a selection, a concentrate. There were even things added that were not present at the time of the trial. We didn’t take liberties, but we added extracts from books. »

A fan of legal dramas, Cédric Kahn was inspired by documentaries for The Goldman Trial. Citing The Trial of Adolf Eichmann, by Michaël Prazan, and A Specialist, Portrait of a Modern Criminal, by Eyal Sivan, he admits that he suggested to the actors to watch the trial of O. J. Simpson: “I find it great, these images of justice shot live on television. We don’t have that in France. »

If there seems to be a concern for authenticity both in the period reconstruction and in the remarks made at court and the acting of the actors, the filmmaker denies having wanted to make a realistic film.

“The lawyers who saw it found my film very, very messy, even though it was a trial that was not very well run and the room was very noisy. It must also be said that I have a lot of difficulty with the rules… When I came to Quebec to film A Better Life, it was very difficult to adapt to the way of filming. »

Cédric Kahn does not claim to sign a duty of remembrance either. At most a testimony of the times which echo ours. “When we make a film in 2023 about Goldman, are we summoning the 1970s or what Goldman was summoning then? When speaking of the racism of the 1970s, of a divided France, he referred to the Occupation, to Collaboration versus the Resistance. From there, the perspective is endless. Today, once again, in France, the far right has never had so many voters. For me, this is the biggest problem in France today. In fact, it is a global phenomenon. »

Actor, screenwriter and director born in Paris in 1966, Cédric Kahn made his film debut as an intern in the editing of Under the Sun of Satan, by Maurice Pialat.

After directing two short films and co-writing a few screenplays, he shot his first feature film, Bar des rails, in 1993.

Finally, he achieved notoriety thanks to Boredom (1998), adaptation of the novel by Alberto Moravia, and Roberto Succo (2001), based on the life of an Italian serial killer.