The Fesch case

a documentary film : The Fesch case
Director : Patricia Valeix
Length : 52'
Year : 2009
Producer : Daniel Leconte


In 1957, in cell 18 of the Prison de la Santé, reserved to prisoners sentenced to death, a young man is enjoying his last weeks. He no longer expects any help from man’s society, and in his letters, his diary, he writes... His daily life, his revolts, his agony but also his Christian faith that he’s discovering and through which everything seems to make sense, his life, his death, his guilt...His name is Jacques Fesch; he made a sensation in the press in the 1950s, spurred by the debate on the death penalty, sentenced for the killing of a policeman in the middle of winter 1954! The (tabloid) press turned against this son from a good family who spent his youth in the cellar nightclubs of St Germain des Près, and he dragged his profound discontentment until he did something that can’t be undone... Forty years after his execution, on Christmas of 1993, when the cardinal Lustiger claims the wish of the French Catholic Church to beatify Jacques Fesch, he clearly intends to send a strong message to our society. It immediately stirs up controversy. The film is based on the comparison of these three periods of Jacques Fesch’s life (youth, prison, posthumous life) and it breaks the chronology of these periods to better reveal the complexity, the ambiguities of a character who always finds himself in the extreme. The documentary’s narrative aims at recreating this dimension of an impossible portrait where the rough edges are as many layers which tell a story and question the movement of a tumultuous life, and finally tell us what we are.