Communist, anti-colonialist, right-wing extremist? What convictions guide the moral mind of Jacques Vergès? Barbet Schroeder takes us down history’s darkest paths in his attempt to illuminate the mystery behind this enigmatic figure.
As a young lawyer during the Algerian war, Vergès espoused the anti-colonialist cause and defended Djamila Bouhired, ‘la Pasionaria,’ who bore her country’s hopes for freedom on her shoulders and was sentenced to death for planting bombs in cafes. He obtained her release, married her and had two children with her.
Then suddenly, at the height of an illustrious career, Vergès disappeared without trace for eight years. He re-emerged from his mysterious absence, taking on the defense of terrorists of all kinds, from Magdalena Kopp and Anis Naccache to Carlos the Jackal. He represented historical monsters such as Nazi lieutenant Klaus Barbie. From the lawyer’s inflammatory and provocative cases to his controversial terrorist links, Barbet Schroeder follows the winding trail left by this ‘devil’s advocate,’ as he forges his unique path in law and politics.
Schroeder explores and questions the history of ‘blind terrorism’ through his penetrating investigation of this compelling man and leads us towards shocking revelations that expose long-hidden links in history.
Directed by: BARBET SCHROEDER
Produced by: RITA DAGHER
Co-producers: BRAHIM CHIOUA AND VINCENT MARAVAL
Assistant director: EUGÉNIE GRANDVAL
Production manager: SYLVIE BALLAND
Post-production manager: CHRISTINA CRASSARIS
Sound: YVES COMÉLIAU, BÉATRICE WICK,
Music: JORGE ARRIAGADA
DPs: CAROLINE CHAMPETIER A.F.C,
Editor: NELLY QUETTIER.
“A RIVETING DRAMA. This fascinating story is fresh, epic and challenging to all preconceptions about the use of violence for political purposes.” – Richard Corliss and Mary Corliss, Time
“ASTONISHING. One of the most engaging political thrillers in quite some time. JAW-DROPPING. If pitched to a Hollywood studio, the story would have been dismissed as crazily implausible. It works brilliantly as a documentary, with a narrative all the more amazing for being true.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“COMPLETELY EXHILARATING. It tells the spellbinding, half-secret, half-forgotten history of revolutionary terrorism in the 20th century, complete with romance, bullets and blood. It makes you wonder if people like Frederick Forsyth and Robert Ludlum simply took notes on reality when they wrote their thrillers.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“A FANTASTIC INTERNATIONAL THRILLER. Anyone wishing to ponder the development of political terror should go see this engrossing film.” – Jim Hoberman, Village Voice
“FASCINATING.” – Melissa Anderson, Time Out New York
“A FASCINATING PORTRAIT. Barbet Schroeder locates the roots of international terror.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker