Employees and employers try to, er, work out their issues in "Labor Court."

Employees and employers try to, er, work out their issues in “Labor Court,” Swiss helmer Stephane Goel’s absorbing docu on the titular institution that aims to resolve business matters such as unjustified dismissals, harassment or unexplained absences. Though less continually gripping and insightful than Raymond Depardon’s “The 10th District Court,” which looked at misdemeanors, Goel’s portrait of the nighttime proceedings in a Lausanne courthouse does, after a slow start, similarly crystallize into a complex look at a contempo Francophone society. Docu fests and broadcasters will court this work.

Migrant workers, inexperienced youngsters and inebriated chauffeurs are some of the subjects treated here; though the parties are shown onscreen, none of them are identified by name. The court proceedings are free, but lawyers aren’t, so many of the employees (and some employers) defend themselves. Hearings are held after office hours, in an eerily dark and empty courthouse, caught in clinical HD with minor color bleeds. Straightforward editing is the sole narrative device. English-language title could be replaced with “Employment Tribunal,” after the similar U.K. legal institution.

Labor Court



A Look Now! release of a Climage presentation and production, in association with Radio Television Suisse. Produced by Fernand Melgar. Co-producers, Jean-Philippe Ceppi, Marcel Schuepbach. Directed by Stephane Goel. Written by Goel, Claude Muret.


Camera (color, HD), Bastien Genoux; editor, Loredana Cristelli; music, Jerome Burri, Dimitri de Graaff. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Filmmakers of the Present), Aug. 8, 2010. Running time: 88 MIN.


Philippe Colelough, Valerie Foray. (French dialogue)
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