Who still remembers Pierre Goldman? Born in 1944 in Lyon, under the Occupation, to a couple of Polish Jewish resistance fighters living in France, as a child, therefore, destined for death, he searched all his life for a fight worthy of the one that allowed him to survive. . Close to the extreme left, he put himself, at the end of the 1960s, at the service of a revolutionary utopia which was dying. He turns, in desperation, in the company of Guadeloupean friends, to banditry. Accused in 1969 of the murder of two pharmacists in Paris, he was found guilty in 1974 during a first trial. Pleading his innocence, he wrote a literary monument in prison entitled Obscure memories of a Polish Jew born in France (Threshold, 1975). Going to cassation, he was finally acquitted in 1976 for lack of sufficient evidence.
It is this second trial, which mobilized a large part of the left-wing intelligentsia of the time in his favor, that director Cédric Kahn reconstructs in The Goldman Trial. The film becomes a rhetorical epic, condensed from a passion which will remain fascinating and mysterious until the end, with the unsolved assassination of Pierre Goldman, in 1979, in Paris, at the age of 35.
You were born in 1966, so you were 8 years old at the time of Pierre Goldman’s first trial and 13 at the time of his assassination. When did you encounter this affair and this destiny?
I don’t know anything at this age, but still, it exists in me. There is this book – Obscure memories of a Polish Jew born in France – whose title caught my attention in my parents’ library. One day, I’m 30, I’m already a filmmaker, I open it, I read it. It’s a shock. I’m intrigued, I’m not a fan, I’m like, “This guy is strange.” » Flambeur, brilliant, provocative, ambiguous, manipulative. I immediately tell myself that he’s a movie character.
The idea will still take more than twenty-five years to develop…
Yes. First with the proposal from Canal+ to make a TV film, which I find too hagiographic and which I refuse. Christophe Blanc directed it in 2011 with Samuel Benchetrit in the lead role. But I already think that this second trial, that of the acquittal, is the angle from which this story should be approached. Make a film about the art of speech, because Goldman’s great feat, his ultimate act of bravery, for me, is the book he writes and the dialectic that will lead to his acquittal. Then I move on to something else, until the day I meet the screenwriter Nathalie Hertzberg, who had worked on this project at the time, and who tells me that we need to get back to it. I told myself she was right.
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