September 17, 2015

Movies With an International Legal Slant

Lyo Louis-Jacques at the University of Chicago has posted this list of movies dealing with international legal issues to the International Law Librarians List (Int-Law).

Wonderful and helpful resources (both this list and the listserv).

Please send suggestions for updating the list to Professor Louis-Jacques at llou at

Foreign, Comparative, and International Law and Justice on Film and TV:
An A to Z List
(compiled by Lyonette Louis-Jacques, August 2010 rev.)*

4 Months, 3 Weeks and Two Days (Romania, 2007)

Drama about a woman who assists her friend to arrange an illegal abortion in 1980's Romania.

10e chambre, instants d'audience = The 10th Judicial Court: Judicial Hearings (France, 2004; Director: Raymond Depardon)

The proceedings of a Paris courtroom are the grist for this documentary. Drawn from over 200 appearances before the same female judge, the director chooses a dozen or so varied misdemeanor and civil hearings to highlight the subtle details of human behavior. In the process he draws attention to issues of guilt, innocence, policing and ethnicity in France.

12 jurors must decide the fate of a Chechen teenager charged with murdering his stepfather.

*The Advocate (UK/France, 1993; Director: Leslie Megahey; starring Colin Firth, Ian Holm, Donald Pleasence)

In medieval France, young lawyer Richard Courtois leaves Paris for the simpler life in the country.


Set in the 15th century, this is the story of a young lawyer-advocate whose quest for the simple life leads him to a position in a small rural village. Instead of the peaceful life, however, he finds more depravity and intrigue than in the city.

L’Affaire Lafarge = The Lafarge Case (France, 1938)

The movie portrays Marie Chapelle, who was accused of having poisoned her husband Charles Lafarge in the 1850s. The grand-niece of Charles Lafarge sued the film producer for defamation of the memory of her grand-uncle.

Andaz (India, 1949; Director: Mehboob Khan)

Andaz, one of Mehboob Khan’s great melodramas, exposes the anxiety unleashed by the prospect of gender equality after Independence. A westernized young woman (Nargis) encourages the love of an acquaintance (Dilip Kumar)
even though she is already engaged to another man (Raj Kapoor). The film’s casting, its thematic deployment of law as a source of restoring social order, and its
final scene—where husband and wife are separated as the heroine begins to serve her prison sentence—all deeply influenced Awāra. Bollywood Law

Die Anwälte (Germany, 2009; documentary)(The Lawyers A German Story, a movie about Otto Schily, Hans-Christian Stroebele, and Horst Mahler)
Die Anwälte (Germany, ARD, 2008; TVseries; in 8 episodes; interestedlookatpracticeoflawin Germany)

*Ashita e no yuigon = Best Wishes for Tomorrow (Japan, 2007)

A Japanese Class B war criminal sets out to take full responsibility for the execution of American Airmen…Lieutenant General Tasuku Okada.

Awara (India, Hindi, 1951; Director: Raj Kapoor; Top 3 Bollywood law movie; has long courtroom scene)

Raju lives as a derelict as a result of being estranged from his bitter father, a district judge, who threw Raju's mother out of the house years ago...

Bamako (Mali/USA/France, 2006)(mock trial against the World Bank and the IMF by African civil society)

Black and White (Australia/UK, 2002)

Recreation of the landmark 1958 South Australian Court trial in which young aboriginal Max Stuart was sentenced to hang, having been found guilty of the murder of a nine year old white girl.

Bollywood Law: Commercial Hindi Films with Legal Themes (Michael H. Hoffheimer, 98 Law Library Journal 61 (2006)(list Top 3 movies, and Top 20 recommended Bollywood law films)

Les bonnes causes = Don’t Tempt the Devil (France, 1963; Director: Christian-Jaque)

Paul Dupré meurt soudainement suite à une injection faite par son infirmière, Gina Bianchi. Gina a été la maîtresse de Dupré et est accusée de l'avoir tué quand on découvre un testament qui la nomme héritière de tous ses biens. Catherine est par conte la femme de Dupré et en même temps la maîtresse de Maître Cassidi, à qui elle avoue d'être l'auteur du crime. Il commence ainsi un duel judiciaire, dans lequel ce qui compte ne sont pas les faits, mais leur interprétation et la capacité des deux avocats. Ce sera la justice qui gagnera ou bine l'habileté dans la manipulation des évènements?

Three Australian lieutenants are court martialed for executing prisoners as a way of deflecting attention from war crimes committed by their superior officers.

The blue collar Kerrigan home is filled with love as well as pride in their modest lifestyle, but their happiness is threatened when developers attempt the compulsory acquisition of their house to expand the neighboring Melbourne Airport.

*China from the Inside (PBS, 2007; documentary; episode 4 focuses on freedom & justice)

Commis d’office (France, 2009; Director: Hannelore Cayre)

“« Commis d'office » est un roman paru en 2004, qui faisait le point sur la loi française et la magistrature à l'époque de Dominique Perben et des lois Sarkozy sur le racolage passif. L'avocate pénaliste Hannelore Cayre y faisait une peinture au vitriol de la
« justice des pauvres et des proxos », du côté de l'avocat en même temps que du côté du mis en examen.”

Confronting the Truth (United States Institute of Peace, 2006; documentary on truth commissions)

Shows how countries which have experienced massive human rights violations have created official, independent bodies known as truth commissions, and documents the work of these commissions in South Africa, Peru, East Timor, and Morocco.

Le Conseil Constitutionnel (France, 2010; videos of French constitutional council/court public hearings)

The Constant Gardener (UK/Germany, 2005; starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz)(English diplomat’s wife murdered in Kenya)

A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption.


In a remote area of Northern Kenya, activist Tessa Quayle is found brutally murdered. Tessa's companion, a doctor, appears to have fled the scene, and all the evidence points to a crime of passion. Members of the British High Commission in Nairobi assume that Tessa's widower, their mild-mannered and unambitious colleague Justin Quayle, will leave the matter to them. Haunted by remorse and jarred by rumors of his late wife's infidelities, Quayle surprises everyone by embarking on a personal odyssey that will take him across three continents. Using his privileged access to diplomatic secrets, Justin  risks his own life and will stop at nothing to expose the truth - a conspiracy more far- reaching and deadly than Quayle could ever have imagined.

Le Corbeau (France, 1943; Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot)

French village doctor becomes target of poison-pen letters sent to village leaders, accusing him of affairs and practicing abortion.

Courthouse on the Horseback 马背 上的法庭》(China, 2006; Director: Liu Jie; Ma Bei Shang)

The film follows three characters on a tour of the remote Yunman province of China where they travel with a horse to deal with legal disputes in mountain villages.
Government policy is forcing the retirement of "Auntie" Yang (Yang Yaning) and she will have to separate after years of professional partnership from Feng (Li Baotian). They are accompanied by her replacement, recent law school graduate Ah-Luo (Lu Yulai).

Un crime au Paradis = A Crime in Paradise (France, 2001; Director: Jean Becker)

In the 1980 French countryside, farmer Jojo and his ill-tempered wife Lulu hate each other, though their respective interests speak against divorce. The only thing that keeps the oppressed Jojo from murder is the threat of the guillotine.

Crude (USA, 2009)(lawsuit by Ecuadorans against Chevron for oil spills in the Amazon)

*Cry Freedom (UK, 1987; Director: Richard Attenborough; starring Denzel Washington and Kevin Kline

South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend the black activist Steve Biko.

*A Cry in the Dark (Australia/USA, 1988; Director: Fred Schepisi; starring Meryl Streep & Sam Neill)

The story of a mother whose child was killed in an animal attack, only to have herself accused of the infant's murder.

Damini Lightning (India, 1993)

The theme revolves around the character Damini who represents truth and innocence. After her marriage in renowned wealthy family, Damini happens to see a cruel act done by her brother-in-law. She wants the pray to get justice, but the family including her husband opposes her, which leads her to quit the home. She is flanked

by a drunkard, an ex-advocate, who helps her in all respect to reach to her aim therefore justice.

Délits flagrants (France, 1994; Director: Raymond Depardon; documentary)

This documentary is a collection of footage of 14 suspects being 'interviewed' by the deputy public prosecutors.

Divorce Iranian Style (Iran/UK, 1998; documentary

Divorce - Italian Style = Divorzio all’italiana (Italy, 1961; starring Marcello Mastroianni)

A married Sicilian baron falls in love with his cousin and vows to wed her, but with divorce illegal he must concoct a crime of passion to do away with his wife.

Do Ustad (India, 1959; starring Raj Kapoor)

From its opening image of a courthouse, director Tara Harish’s Do Ustad
signals that it is modeled on Awāra. Like its model, the narrative emerges as flashback from a criminal trial. Jagannath (Sheik Mukhtar), defended by his younger
brother (Raj Kapoor), confesses to killing but insists social conditions forced him to the deed: “I wasn’t born a murderer.” Bollywood Law

Le dossier noir = Black Dossier/The Black File (France/Italy, 1955; Director: André Cayatte)

About the difficulties of being a sentencing judge André Bazin

En cas de malheur = Love Is My Profession (France/Italy, 1958; Director: Claude Autant-Lara; starring Brigitte Bardot and Jean Gabin)

Married French lawyer Andre defends successfully the case of Yvette, who committed a robbery. He falls in love with her, but she isn't true to him.

En plein coeur = In All Innocence (France, 1998; Director: Pierre Jolivet)

Cécile and Samira can't pay their expensive Paris rent. Walking down the street the two girls see an art gallery reception and finesse their way in. In attendance are Michel Farnèse, a very well-to-do corporate lawyer, and his wife Viviane, an artist… Cécile needs to find a lawyer…Michel agrees to take the case, since Cécile comes from the same poor neighbourhood he worked his way out of.

The Face of AIDS (2007)(Malawi)

'The face of AIDS' shines a light on the stigma and discrimination suffered by women living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi ... These conditions persist despite Malawi's commitments under international law to protect people living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination.

Four Days in September = O Que É Isso, Companheiro? (Brazil/USA, 1997; starring Alan Arkin)
Fernando, a journalist, and his friend César join terrorist group MR8 in order to fight Brazilian dictatorial regime during the late sixties. Cesare, however, is wounded and captured during a bank hold up. Fernando then decides to kidnap the American ambassador in Brazil and ask for the release of fifteen political prisoners in exchange for his life.

Franz Fuchs Ein Patriot (Austria, 2007; TV semidocumentary about a “xenophobic bomb planter” in the 1990s)

The French Criminal Trial (Cornell University Law School; video segments under each actor)

*Gandhi (UK/India, 1982; Director: Richard Attenborough; starring Ben Kingsley, etc.)

Biography of Mahatma Gandhi, the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British through his philosophy of non-violent protest.

Garde à vue (France, 1981; Director: Claude Miller)

A police inspector, suspecting an attorney of two child sex murders, has him held for a questioning session that goes on for hours.

The number of adoptions from Guatemala to the US has risen dramatically in recent years, as has the controversy. What is seen as an act of love by adoptive parents is viewed with suspicion inside Guatemala, and the film examines the ramifications that money, private lawyers, media coverage and women's rights have on the adoption process…intercountry adoption.

L’Habit vert (France, 1937; Director: Roger Richebé)

Hail, the Judge! = Jiu pin zhi ma guan: Bai mian Bao Qing Tian  (Hong Kong/China, Cantonese, 1994; starring Stephen Chow)(comedy)

Pao Lung-Sing, a descendant of the famous Judge Pao Ching Tient, is a 9th degree corrupt judge…

Human Rights in China: The Search for Common Ground (Sacred Mountain Productions, 2004; documentary)

Ich klage an = I accuse (Germany, 1941)(jury room debate on euthanasia)

In Search of International Justice (2005)

Discusses the evolution of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world's first, permanent, international judicial body capable of prosecuting individuals accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity when national courts are unable  or unwilling to do so. The film travels to Kosovo, northern Uganda, Iraq, Rwanda and Darfur, focusing on offenses that have or could have fallen under the ICC's jurisdiction. The film also discusses the United States' current opposition to the ICC.

*In the Name of the Father (Ireland/UK, 1993; Director: Jim Sheridan; starring Daniel Day- Lewis and Emma Thompson)

Man's coerced confession to an IRA bombing he didn't do imprisons his father as well; a British lawyer helps fight for their freedom.

In the Tall Grass (2006)(Rwanda)

Focuses on the Hutu and Tutsi as they struggle through Rwanda's unique reconciliation process: Gacaca, a network of grassroots community courts.

Tells of the hazardous journey of two Afghan boys as they travel from Pakistan through Iran, Turkey, Italy, France and the UK in search of refuge in London, revealing the desperate measures people take to escape persecution and life-threatening conditions.

Les inconnus dans la maison = Strangers in the House (France, 1942; Director: Henri Decoin)

“A former lawyer,[Hector Loursat], called it quits when his wife left him; and now, he lives with his daughter whom he does not seem to love very much. Then he discovers  a dead body in his house. The girl and her pack of youngsters are involved. But he acts as like he doesn't care. He agrees to defend the suspect, his daughter's boyfriend.”

L’Ivresse du pouvoir = Comedy of Power (France/Germany, 2006; Director: Claude Chabrol; starring Isabelle Huppert)

A magistrate investigates a corporate executive.

Judge 透析(China, 2009; Director: Liu Jie)

A man sentenced death for stealing two cars looks to avoid execution in China.


“*A+ great movie and a super look into several grave issues in China's criminal justice system; corruption, death penalty and court control.  Although the story is set in 1997 (based on a real case), the movie concerns questions that are just as pertinent today.”

The Judge = Domaren (Sweden, 1960)

Krister and his fiancée Brita return to Stockholm after a stay in Italy. Shortly upon their return Krister learns that all his assets left to him by his father has disappeared.
Together with Brita he tries to obtain justice in a aristocratic and corrupt legal system.

*Judgment at Nuremberg = Urteil von Nürnberg (USA, 1961; Director: Stanley Kramer; stars Maximilian Schell, Spencer Tracy, Marlene Dietrich, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, Werner Klemperer, and William Shatner)

In 1948, an American court in occupied Germany tries four Nazi judges for war crimes.

Le Juge = The Judge (France, 1984; Director: Philippe Lefebvre)

Le juge et l’assassin = The Judge and the Assassin (France, 1976; Director: Bertrand Tavernier)

France, 1893. Joseph Bouvier, a former Sergeant in the French military, shoots his beloved and attempts to kill himself. Having survived with two bullets in his brain, he is released from the Dole medical facility, a place of mental and physical filthiness.
Then begins a five-year period of wandering on the roads of the South East of France, during which Bouvier rapes and eventually kills two dozen defenseless shepherds and farm servants of both sexes. Judge Rousseau thinks this case would help his career as a right wing politician and therefore issues warrants of arrests to find any hobo fitting the description. But if Bouvier was declared insane, the Judge's plan may become a trap...

Le juge Fayard dit le Shériff = Judge Fayard Called the Sheriff (France, 1977; Director: Yves Boisset)

Justice est faite = Justice Is Done (France, 1950; Director: André Cayatte)

Know as "Justice Is Done" in 1953 when it was first shown in the USA, it opens with a short briefing in English on the French jury system and then reverts to French with English subtitles. The Marshal summons the jury and an insight is given into the background of the seven jurors who are to decide on the guilt of the accused, a sick man's mistress on trail for his mercy killing. The trial appears to be not presented to prove her innocence or guilt, but rather to let the court (film) philosophize on the moral acceptability of euthanasia.

Justice, My Foot! = Sam gei goon (Hong Kong/China, Cantonese, 1992; starring Stephen Chow)

Justiz (Switzerland/Germany, 1993; writer: Friedrich Dürrenmatt)

Senator Isaak Kohler shoots and kills Professor Winter in a crowded restaurant, while Winter is dining with the struggling idealistic young lawyer...

Kanoon (India, 1960)

A murder mystery, told with the help of five characters - or six if you count the dead man.

Karakter (Netherlands/Belgium, 1997; Director: Mike van Diem)

Jacob Katadreuffe lives mute with his mother, has no contact with his father who only works against him and wants to become a lawyer, at all costs.

Khuda Kay Live (Pakistan, 2007)(Muslim Pakistanis after 9/11)

Lawyer, Lawyer = Suen sei cho (Hong Kong/China, Cantonese, 1997; starring Stephen Chow of “Kung Fu Hustle” fame)

The Lemon Tree (Israel/Germany/France, 2008)

The story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemon tree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her lemon grove torn down.

The shocking story of an unbelievable miscarriage of justice…In 1950s England, slow-

witted Derek Bentley falls in with a group of petty criminals led by Chris Craig, a teenager with a fondness for American gangster films.

Liebling-Kreuzberg (Germany, 1986; comedy TV series with Manfred Krug playing Robert Liebling, a lawyer in Kreuzberg; called “Schulfernsehen” by law school students)

*The Lives of Others = Das Leben der Anderen (Germany, 2006)

In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police [public prosecutor], conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.

*“M” (Germany, 1931; Director: Fritz Lang; starring Peter Lorre)

When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.


Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More, is placed in a difficult position when Henry VIII breaks with the Catholic Church over its refusal to annul his marriage to Katherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne Boleyn. Henry demands More's endorsement of this act. Torn between his conscience and duty to the crown, Sir Thomas chooses to say nothing.

Maria Full of Grace (Colombia/US/Ecuador, 2004; Director: Joshua Marston)(Colombia)

Maria, a poor Colombian teenager, is desperate to leave a soul-crushing job. She accepts an offer to transport packets of heroin -- which she swallows - - to the United States. The ruthless world of drug trafficking proves to be more than for which she bargained.

A Matter of Life and Death (UK, 1946; starring David Niven; also called Stairway to Heaven)(fantasy legal system)

A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.

Midnight Express (USA/UK, 1978)(Turkey)

Billy Hayes is caught attempting to smuggle drugs out of Turkey. The Turkish courts decide to make an example of him, sentencing him to more than 30 years in prison. Hayes has two opportunities for release: the appeals made by his lawyer, his family, and the American government, or the "Midnight Express".

Moksha: Salvation (India, 2001)

Appalled at the manner lawyers treat less affluent people, Vikram Saigal decides to do something for the poor...

*The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentina/USA/Chile/Peru/Brazil/UK/Germany/France, 2004; starring Gael García Bernal):

Deals with Che Guevara's trip through Latin America.  Encounters issues of indigenous and human rights.

*Music Box (USA, 1989; Director: Costas-Gavras; starring Jessica Lange)(Hungarian immigrant in U.S. accused of war crimes is defended by lawyer-daughter)

*The Name of the Rose = Der Name der Rose (France/Italy/Germany, 1986; Director: Jean- Jacques Annaud: starring Sean Connery & Christian Slater)

1327: after a mysterious death in a Benedictine Abbey, the monks are convinced that the apocalypse is coming. With the Abbey to play host to a council on the Franciscan's Order's belief that the Church should rid itself of wealth, William of Baskerville, a respected Franciscan monk, is asked to assist in determining the cause of the untimely death. Alas, more deaths occur as the investigation draws closer to uncovering the secret the Abbey wants hidden, and there is finally no stopping the Holy Inquisition

from taking an active hand in the process. William and his young novice must race against time to prove the innocence of the unjustly accused and avoid the wrath of Holy Inquisitor Bernardo Gui.

*Nuremberg (Canada/USA, 2000; TV mini-series starring Alec Baldwin)

The dramatized account of the war crime trials following the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

The Official Story = La historia oficial (Argentina, 1985)

Alicia Marnet de Ibáñez is a high school history professor and a well-to-do housewife in Buenos Aires, circa 1983, after the fall of the "junta militar" that had taken over the government since 1976. She has a husband, Roberto, who is a successful lawyer and a five-year-old adopted daughter.


Alicia is blissfully ignorant about what happened in the military coup until one of her history students asks her if she only believes what the history books say. She embarks on a mission to find if her daughter is the daughter of one of the women who disappeared during the coup. When her husband finds out, he does everything in his power to prevent her from finding the truth, but she's determined and nothing he does is going to stop her.

*Paper Dolls = Bubot Niyar (USA/Israel/Switzerland, 2006; Director: Tomer Heymann; documentary) (Philippines, Israel immigration)

Passport to Pimlico (UK, 1949; Director: Henry Cornelius)

Residents of a part of London declare independence, when they discover an old treaty [that proves it is part of the medieval kingdom of Burgundy]. This leads to the need for a 'Passport to Pimlico'.

The Passion of Joan of Arc = La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (France, 1928; Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer; starring Maria Falconetti)(courtroom drama)

A chronicle of the trial of Jeanne d'Arc on charges of heresy, and the efforts of her ecclesiastical jurists to force Jeanne to recant her claims of holy visions.

*Paths of Glory (USA, 1957; Director: Stanley Kubrick; starring Adolphe Menjou and Kirk Douglas)(court-martial before a military tribunal in France)

The futility and irony of the war in the trenches in WWI is shown as a unit commander in the French army must deal with the mutiny of his men and a glory-seeking general after part of his force falls back under fire in an impossible attack.

*The People’s Court (PBS “Wide Angle”, 2007)(law of China)

*Praying in Her Own Voice (Israel, 2007; documentary)

This powerful film documents the courageous struggle of a religious female's group called Women of the Wall movement for equality next to the wailing wall, perhaps the holiest place on earth for Jews.

Le président Haudecœur (France, 1940; Director: Jean Dréville; comedy)

A public prosecutor wants his son to marry an ugly girl(who has a squint) because her mom is very rich.But it's too late for the boy has already fallen in love with another girl who is pregnant by him.Angry dad is to stop his shameless son's allowance.

La présidente (France, 1938; Director: Fernand Rivers; comedy)

Der Prozeß (Austria, 1948)

Historical (XIX. century) court process: Jewish community accused of ritual murdering Esther Solymosi.

Rabbit-Proof Fence (Australia, 2002)

If you were kidnapped by the government, would you walk the 1500 miles back home?... In 1931, three aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their homes to be trained as domestic staff and set off on a trek across the Outback.

*Rashomon (Japan, 1950; Director: Akira Kurosawa; starring Toshiro Mifune)

Set in the Middle Ages, the nature of truth and subjective reality are probed in a series of flashbacks from four viewpoints to present the case history of a man's murder and the rape of his wife by a bandit.

The Reader (USA/Germany, 2008; starring Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet)

Post-WWII Germany: Nearly a decade after his affair with an older woman came to a mysterious end, law student Michael Berg re-encounters his former lover as she defends herself in a war-crime trial.

A Reasonable Man (South Africa, 1999; Director: Gavin Hood)

A Reasonable Man tells the story of a city lawyer who comes across the case of a herdboy from remote, rural Zululand, who has killed a one year old baby in the mistaken belief that he was killing an evil spirit, known throughout Southern Africa as the "Tikoloshe". Dark Secrets which lie buried deep within the lawyer connect him to the boy. He takes the case and enters a world of African witchcraft and mysticism to discover the truth about the killing - and himself.

“*B+ased on a true story of a young black South African man who stands trial for the murder of an infant, whom he mistook for an evil spirit. The lawyer who defends him is plagued by his own demons. The film was made by, and stars, Gavin Hood (of Tsotsi fame).”

The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (USA, 2009)

*Red Corner (USA, English & Mandarin, 1997; starring Richard Gere & Bai Ling)(American lawyer in China)

Le retour de Martin Guerre = The Return of Martin Guerre (France, 1982; starring Gérard Depardieu)(“false impersonation in medieval times in the framework of a court session”)

Robe rouge (France, 1933)

*Rome (UK/USA, 2005-2007; TV series)

The subject of an American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) program called Rome: The Power of Film to Teach Foundations of Roman and Civil Law”. Betsy Chessler reported on the program in the Sept/Oct 2007 issue of the AALL Spectrum:  Making Rome Come to Life. The program included a clip on the murder trial of Titus Pullo.


A down-to-earth account of the lives of both illustrious and ordinary Romans set in the last days of the Roman Republic.

*Rumpole of the Bailey (UK, 1978-1992; TV series)(criminal law barrister)
Sacco e Vanzetti (Italy/France, 1971; Director: Giuliano Montaldo; starring Gian Maria Volon)

The story of two anarchists who were charged and unfairly tried for murder when it was really for their political convictions.

The Secret in Their Eyes = El secreto de sus ojos (Argentina/Spain, 2009)

A retired legal counselor writes a novel hoping to find closure for one of his past unresolved homicide cases and for his unreciprocated love with his superior - both of which still haunt him decades later.

Seoul Train (USA, 2004)(North Korean refugees living underground in China)

The gripping documentary exposé into the life and death of North Koreans as they try to escape their homeland and China.

Sisters-In-Law (Cameroon/UK, 2005; documentary)

Set in Kumba in South West Cameroon Sisters in Law follows Adultery, Rape and Abuse cases led by a Female Judge.

*Sore de mo boku wa yattenai = I Just Didn't Do It (Japan, 2006)(sexual harassment in Japan)
(Soredemo boku wa yattenai)

A young man is falsely accused of molesting a high-school girl on a train. He is arrested and charged, and goes through endless court sessions, all the while insisting that he is innocent.

State of Fear (USA, 2005)(Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

The Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission's official report chronicles the atrocities of both sides during the twenty year war between Abimael Guzman's revolutionary "Shining path" Indian guerrilla movement and the establishment governments. The Commission presents an alternate lens through which citizens of Peru can evaluate the inequalities their Indian people sought to address and the inevitable ravages modern terrorism brings to everyone.

When a journalist is stranded in her remote village, Zahra takes a bold chance to reveal what the villagers will stop at nothing to keep hidden. Thus begins the remarkable story of what happened to Soraya, a kind-spirited woman whose bad marriage leads her cruel, divorce-seeking husband to trump up false charges of infidelity, which carry an unimaginable penalty.


A drama set in 1986 Iran and centered on a man, Sahebjam, whose car breaks down in a remote village and enters into a conversation with Zahra, who relays to him the story about her niece, Soraya, whose arranged marriage to an abusive tyrant had a tragic ending.

Storm (Germany/Denmark/Netherlands, 2009; Director: Hans-Christian Schmid; the workings of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia/ICTY)

*The Story of Qiu Ju = Qiuju da guan si  (China/Hong Kong, 1992; Director: Zhang Yimou; starring Gong Li)

In a small Chinese village a farmer (Qing Lai) and his chief quarrel over land. When Qing Lai is injured by the chief, who kicks him in the groin, Qing's wife Qiu Ju begins a quixotic odyssey that takes her from her small village to the provincial capital. She is relentless in her one-woman crusade to wreak a simple justice from the proud Chief ... she wants him to apologize.

The Story of Women = Une affaire des femmes (France, 1988; Director: Claude Chabrol; starring Isabelle Huppert)

Based upon the true story of Marie-Louise Giraud, a French woman put to death for performing unlawful abortions.

Taishi Village (China, 2005; documentary)

Tai Shi Village follows the famous events when villagers of Tai Shi, in suburban Guangzhou, tried to remove the appointed local officials. The villagers suspected that their land was illegally taken away by the local authorities. Shot under                                                               dangerous conditions, the film reflects vividly the growing number of serious conflicts in rural China.

The Tank Man (PBS “Frontline”, 2006; documentary on unarmed young man who stood his ground before tanks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace, June 5, 1989, China)

Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)(investigation of torture and killing of Afghani taxi driver)

*A Taxing Woman = Marusa no onna (Japan, 1987)

Ryoko Itakura is a government tax agent who has just landed a big promotion. Her first assignment is to catch wheeler-dealer Hideki Gondo…

La tête des autres (France, 1973; written by Marcel Aymé)

Frédéric Maillard is a procurer: the French court system's equivalent of an assistant district attorney… Frédéric convinced a jury to convict Valorin purely by means of his own eloquence [no evidence]. Valorin has received the death sentence. The victory party is so jubilant that none of the celebrants is particularly disturbed when news

arrives that Valorin has escaped. Guess who's coming to dinner. Valorin arrives chez Maillard, and proceeds to hold everyone prisoner. Now, they will listen to him ... or else.

The Tokyo Trial = Dongjing Shenpan (China, 2006)

*Traffic (USA/Germany, 2000; Director: Steven Soderbergh; writer: Simon Moore, miniseries, Traffik; starring Michael Douglas and Benicio Del Toro)(Mexico-U.S.)

A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is an addict.

*The Trial (France/Germany/Italy, 1962; Director: Orson Welles; starring Anthony Perkins and Jeanne Moreau)

An unassuming office worker is arrested and stands trial, but he is never made aware of his charges.

TheTrialof Joanof Arc = Procès de Jeanne d'Arc (France, 1962)
A reconstruction of the trial of Joan of Arc (based entirely on the transcripts of the real- life trial)...

The Unwritten Law = Fat ngoi ching (Hong Kong/China, Cantonese, 1985; starring Andy Lau)

Andy Lau plays a brand new attorney, just back from England, who defends a prostitute accused of killing a high society playboy.

*Veer-Zaara (India, 2004; Top 3 Bollywood law movie)

Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh is a rescue pilot with the Indian Air Force, who risks his own life to save the lives of others. One day, on duty, he comes across a stranded Zaara... a girl from Pakistan. Zaara, a carefree, sprightly girl has come to India to fulfill her surrogate mother's dying wish. She meets with a bus accident leaving her stranded

in a foreign land. Veer saves her life... and his life is never the same again... Twenty-two years later, Saamiya Siddiqui, a Pakistani lawyer on her first case, finds herself face-to- face with an ageing Veer Pratap Singh. He has languished in a Pakistan jail cell for 22 years and has not spoken to anyone all these years - and no one knows why. Her  mission is to discover the truth about Veer and see to it that justice is served. And thus starts her journey to unveil the truth... the story of Veer and his life... Why has Veer been silent for 22 years? Why is he in a jail in Pakistan? Where is Zaara? What happened to her? God has written the destinies of Veer and Zaara, such that they can never be joined together. Saamiya has come to change that... to join Veer and Zaara together... forever...

*Vera Drake (UK/France, 2004; starring Imelda Staunton)

Abortionist Vera Drake finds her beliefs and practices clash with the mores of 1950s Britain--a conflict that leads to tragedy for her family.

La Vérité = Die Wahrheit = The Truth (France/Italy, 1960; Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot; starring Brigitte Bardot)

Dominique Marceau is on trial for the murder of Gilbert Tellier. The counsels duel relentlessly, elaborating explanations for why the pretty…

Volver (Spain, 2006; Director: Pedro Almodóvar; starring Penélope Cruz)

“Involves the cover-up of what probably would be a justifiable homicide.  Young girl murders her stepfather when he is drunk and attempted to rape her.”

Widow of Saint- Pierre = La veuve de Saint-Pierre (France/Canada, 2000; starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil)

In 1849, in the Archipelago of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, the drunken Ariel Neel Auguste and his partner Louis Ollivier kill for a futile motive (to see if he is fat or just big) the fishing boat captain Coupard. Nell, who stabbed the victim, is sentenced to die with his head severed in the guillotine while Louis is sentenced to hard labor. During the transportation to the prison under the custody of Captain Jean, there is an accident and Louis dies. While spending his days in the cell waiting for the guillotine and the

executioner, Neel is invited by the captain's wife Mrs. Pauline to help her in her garden and becomes her protégé. Later he has a process of rehabilitation helping the locals in minor works and becomes very popular in the island…

The Winslow Boy (UK, 1948; Director: Anthony Asquith; starring Robert Donat)

In Edwardian England, a thirteen year-old cadet, Ronnie Winslow, is expelled from the naval academy at Osborne for stealing a seven shilling postal order. His father and sister become obsessed with proving his innocence at any cost to themselves, and turn the case into a national cause celebre.

*The Winslow Boy (UK/USA, 1999; Director: David Mamet)

Early 20th century England: while toasting his daughter Catherine's engagement, Arthur Winslow learns the royal naval academy expelled his 14-year-old son, Ronnie, for stealing five shillings. Father asks son if it is true; when the lad denies it, Arthur risks fortune, health, domestic peace, and Catherine's prospects to pursue justice. After defeat in the military court of appeals, Arthur and Catherine go to Sir Robert Morton, a brilliant, cool barrister and M.P., who examines Ronnie and suggests that they take the matter before Parliament to seek permission to sue the Crown…

*Witness for the Prosecution (USA, 1957; Director: Billy Wilder; starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich!, Charles Laughton, and Elsa Lanchester)

Agatha Christie tale of a man on trial for murder: a trial featuring surprise after surprise.

Z (France/Algeria, 1969; Director: Costa-Gavras; stars Yves Montand, Irene Papas, and Jean- Louis Trintignant)(Greece)

Following the murder of a prominent leftist, an investigator tries to uncover the truth while government officials attempt to cover up their roles.

Der zerbrochene Krug (Germany, 1937)(about a village judge and the case of a broken jug)


Bollywood Law: Commercial Hindi Films with Legal Themes (Michael H. Hoffheimer, 98 Law Library Journal 61 (2006)(list Top 3 movies, and Top 20 recommended Bollywood law films)

DVD Movies at D’Angelo Law Library

International Law and Films (Institute for International Law and Justice, New York University School of Law, 2007-2008)

International Law on Film (Anthony Chase, 2000)

La justice au cinéma (Jean Tulard, April 3, 2006) (audio file, 57 mins.)

La représentation de la justice au cinema (Institut du droit de la culture, June 23, 2003)  representation-de-la-justice-au-cinema

Movie Night @ YLS (Yale Law Library)

*This list was compiled from suggestions from subscribers to the Int-Law <> email list for exchange of foreign, comparative and international legal information, and Twitter colleagues. The plot summaries are mainly from IMDB, Berkeley Law library, and individual colleagues. Asterisked (*) titles are in the D’Angelo Law Library DVD Collection.

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