In 2014, Emily Spanton, a Canadian tourist, accused BRI police of raping her. Convicted at first instance, they were eventually acquitted on appeal. In a striking documentary, the director shows how much the first trial, in 2019, was primarily that of the young woman’s morality.
The case made headlines: in 2014, two police officers from the prestigious Investigative and Intervention Brigade (BRI) were accused by a Canadian tourist of raping her at the property of 36, quai des Orfèvres, the former headquarters of the Judicial Police, in Paris. In 2019, the elite police officers were sentenced to seven years in prison after an extraordinary trial. A verdict they had appealed. On April 22, they were acquitted by the Assize Court of Val-de-Marne.
In The process of 36, remarkable documentary, director Ovidie returns to the progress of the investigation and hearings of January 2019. Doubts about the complainant’s credibility, denial of her word, stigmatization of her personality and her way of life… Back on a first trial marred by rape culture and archaic sexism.
When did you start following the “Rape of 36” case?
I only became interested in it in January 2019, during the trial that I found atypical, especially because of its length – three weeks for a rape trial, it’s an exceptional length. I was not in court, but followed the hearings thanks to the live tweets of three journalists, Marie Barbier, who at the time was working for HumanityAurélie Sarrot, for LCI, and Thibaut Chevillard for 20 minutes. Every day I read live their transcripts of hearings, which had a compelling serial dimension. But it was the verdict that made me decide to make a movie. It is rare for police officers to be convicted and this punishment, for example, sounded like a sanction. We had gone from a dismissal decision in 2016, i.e. no trial, circulating, nothing to see, to seven years in prison three years later. I wanted to understand what had changed. During this period, however, the #MeToo movement had broken out. With this film, I wanted to question the defendants’ defense, which remains a “father-like” defense: the accuser was attacked on aspects of her private life that had nothing to do with the case, which was deeply scandalous.
“A single woman who frequents a bar, who gets flirted with by guys and agrees to follow them… How does all this mean she deserves what would have happened to her?”
You show that this trial was in part consistent with the morality of the plaintiff, Emily Spanton. An unimaginable turnaround in his country of origin?
I am convinced that if Emily Spanton had not been Canadian, there would have been no trial. In Canada, anything to do with the private life of the victim in a rape case is irrelevant. Moreover, for Emily Spanton, daughter of a police officer, it was quite normal to file a report, to demand that samples be taken… She reacts, armed with this culture, and does not expect that at all. rape scene, or questions about her past life… I was very shocked that her ex-husband, whom she hadn’t seen for years, years, was called to the bar. What does this mean? They are divorced, so he clearly describes a ” bad marriage † He mentioned the debt she had incurred for drugs… Even if it wasn’t withheld in the end, it cast doubt on her trustworthiness. Emily Spanton was actually singled out as a ‘bad victim’. A single woman who frequents a bar, who is flirted with by guys and agrees to follow them, whose blood test shows her consumption of oxycodone… But how does all this mean that she would have consented to sexual intercourse, or that she deserved what is happened to her?
The way you track down the case methodically allows you to analyze the complainant’s gaze, which quickly moves from victim to perpetrator…
There is a blackout in this story. From the moment Emily Spanton and the two police officers enter 36, quai des Orfèvres, the cameras see nothing. The truth we will never know, so I wanted to set up a narration that presents the versions of the different parties in sequence, without voiceovers, without commentary: first that of the police and the witnesses of the Irish pub, who comment on her outfit …I’ve captured reconstruction images suggesting their appearance, through a camera sweeping Emily Spanton’s legs, following her buttocks as she enters the bar… Then we had to take her point of view into account. filming the same shot at shoulder height. We also reconstructed the surveillance videos of the pub and the shop window of 36, quai des Orfèvres, first discovered by the lawyers during the trial. They show a huge gap between the police version and reality: although she was described as very engaging with them, we realize it’s the opposite…
“There would be a real collective reflection on what we do with men who rape.”
The end of the documentary questions our society’s progress in handling rape cases.
I understand the anger these things generate, but I don’t believe in the carceral feminism that rejoices in sending rapists to prison because I don’t think it makes sense. I’m not sure if the convicts think they have anything to blame themselves for. There would be a real collective reflection on what we do with men who rape. Prison is not a social project. How do we make them see the seriousness of their actions? What do we do for the well-being of the victims, to validate them in their suffering and to ensure that they can move on with their lives? The real redemption, the real awareness of the problem, in my view, can soothe certain victims more and help them rebuild themselves.
r The process of 36, from Ovidia, in Infra-red, Wednesday, April 27 at 10:45 PM, on France 2.