Movies & Juvenile Justice

The Cannes Film Festival, a renowned and prestigious film festival, takes place every year in May. During this festival, films of a variety of genres are previewed from around the world and often touch upon different themes and cinematographic styles. Last year, the opening film was Standing Tall/ La tête haute by Emmanuelle Bercort, which portrays the French Juvenile Justice system. It opens in theaters April 1, 2016.

The main character, played by Rod Paradot, is rejected by his mother, who then loses him to government services. The story follows the now troubled teen and the “indefatigable souls”, including Catherine Deneuve as the juvenile judge and Benoît Magimel as the counselor, trying to help him. Some reviews have noted that the heroic juvenile justice system is in reality not as “rosy“. In choosing to depict a provincial caucasian adolescent, the filmmaker had good intentions to avoid ‘clichés” of racism, immigration and gangs. However, it might also in turn dismiss the realities of the French juvenile justice system where social, economic issues are also closely related to the policies surrounding immigration and the pervasive racism.

Nonetheless, Emmanuelle Bercot worked hard to depict the juvenile justice institution as faithfully as possible. She is very interested in the themes of justice and childhood and hopes that the audience comes out of this movie with more compassion and understanding towards juvenile delinquents.

Other famous movies addressing juvenile justice include:

Rebel without a cause by Nicholas Ray 1955
This American drama depicts a troubled suburban middle class teenager offering a portrayal of the time’s restless american youth and parenting styles.

Les Quatre Cents Coups by François Truffaut 1959

This french film was significant in defining the French New Wave. It portrays a young teenager in Paris during the 1950s, who becomes a troublemaker at home and at school. The movies also touches on the juvenile system and the ways the society at the time dealt with such troubled children.


Camille Van Kote

About Camille Van Kote

Camille Van Kote is a third year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduated from Barnard College in 2012. As an undergraduate, she worked as an AmeriCorps member for Jumpstart for Young Children. She was also involved with the Columbia Child Rights Group, where she spearheaded various campus-wide events, including film screenings, conferences and fundraisers, to promote awareness on children’s issues. She interned at Tahirih Justice Center and Kids in Need of Defense, working with courageous women and unaccompanied minors fleeing violence. This past summer, she interned at the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, an NGO advocating for sexual and reproductive rights as human rights.

2 thoughts on “Movies & Juvenile Justice

  1. Jonathan Peebles
    April 17, 2016 at 9:33 PM

    An excellent selection of films.

  2. Irene Fenswick
    April 12, 2016 at 5:12 AM

    Great selection of movies. Juvenile crime is a serious issue that should be addressed by both parents and teachers. It needs special approach. Thank you for your post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.