Centre Sandra et Leo Kolber | Salle Lucie et André Chagnon
FREE HANDS is a remarkably intense and powerful autobiographical work - first-time feature director Brigitte Sy re-tells her personal story of a man and a woman falling in love inside a Parisian prison.
Barbara (Israeli actress Ronit Elkabetz), a filmmaker who has worked within the prison system for several years, is filming interviews with inmates. She's been making a movie that is actually being written and performed by long-term prisoners. When Barbara meets inmate Michel (Carlo Brandt), their burgeoning love affair leads her to begin breaking the law. Her decision to try and marry Michel inside the prison begs the question - has she been shut out, or is it Michel who has really been shut in? Director Sy deals with the jailhouse experience as internalized and abstract, a period of immobility - any previous notion of time needs to be abandoned for a new kind of time unique to incarceration. She carefully avoids sensationalizing the prison experience as have most filmmakers - overly-loud soundtracks and violent episodes have become clichés that she abhors.
All the characters in FREE HANDS exist in real life and some are still part of the director's life. The casting of Ronit Elkabetz as Barbara (effectively the director herself) was critical in the movie's success - her strength of character, her voice, accent, and culture were essential in expressing the reality of this rare and miraculous film.
2011 BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL FORUM
2011 TEL-AVIV FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL OFFICIAL SELECTION
2011 VOLOGDA INDEPENDANT CINEMA FROM EUROPEAN SCREENS FESTIVAL OFFICIAL SELECTION