The Collini Case is showing in UK cinemas from Friday 10th September, for more details, visit Peccadillo Pictures.
An ageing man slowly walks through a hotel lobby, his shoes leaving traces of blood on the polished marble floor. As he nears a series of sofas and chairs, he sits, a vacant expression on his face, his hands covered in blood. Worrying for his wellbeing and safety, a hotel employee approaches cautiously and asks, “are you, ok sir”. The man looks up and announces that he has just killed a man in one of the hotel suites. But what could have led this man to murder another in cold blood? And who is the man lying dead in one of the hotels most expensive suites?
Anyone who has read Ferdinand von Schirach’s bestselling novel will already know the answer to these questions. But for those who have not read Schirach’s book. The victim lying in the hotel room is Hans Meyer, a well known and highly respected industrialist in the twilight of his life. His long and illustrious career and charitable work, heralded by the state and its citizens. Meanwhile, the quiet and cold accused is Fabrizio Collini (Franco Nero), an unknown Italian/German citizen in his 60s with no direct connection to the man he admits to murdering. But to make matters even more complicated, Collini refuses to speak as he sits in custody accused of murder.
Enter the recently qualified public attorney Caspar Leinen (Elyas M’Barek), who finds himself court-appointed to this highly unusual criminal case as a defence attorney. Immediately intrigued as to why a law-abiding citizen would suddenly kill in cold blood, Casper takes the case without a second thought. His new client, Collini, remaining stubbornly silent as Casper tries to search for answers.
However, when Caspar learns the name of Collini’s victim, his choice is thrown into doubt and moral turbulence. Meyer was a surrogate father to Casper during his parents’ separation, Meyer’s support and love leading Casper into a legal career. To add to this, Casper was romantically involved with Meyer’s granddaughter Johanna (Alexandra Maria Lara). A woman he still calls a close friend and ally. Therefore, can Casper put aside his loyalties and love to defend an unknown man sitting silently in jail?
READ MORE: THE PAINTED BIRD
While Collini sits awaiting his trial, Casper chooses to put his career before family and loyalty; Collini’s case, far too intriguing to let go. But as he digs into the history of both Collini and Meyer, secrets will emerge that will lead Casper to question the very foundations of the German justice system, and the secrets families choose to bury in the name of success and privilege.
The legal journey and courtroom drama that ensues digs deep into the very notion of justice. The journey of the Meyer family, Casper and Collini rooted in a challenging exploration of history, war, revenge and complicity. Here the opening words of Robert H. Jackson at the Nuremberg Trials ring in our ears, “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating, that civilisation cannot tolerate their being ignored.”
READ MORE: SHADOW COUNTRY
These words would define the years following World War II as Germany and Europe faced the demons of fascism and the actions that led to slaughter, holocaust, unspeakable suffering and abuse. However, Marco Kreuzpaintner’s legal drama reminds us how quickly crimes can be airbrushed from history as time marches forward. The urgency of building a new world from the ruins of the past overtaking the concept of justice at any cost. And it is here that The Collini Case finds a riveting, complex and urgent voice as it explores the Dreher Law of 1968.
The resulting drama is both enthralling and essential as we follow Casper’s desperate search for the truth no matter the social costs. Here, Elyas M’Barek’s performance is magnetic and captivating as his Turkish heritage places him outside of the legal establishment and inside of a pressing need for social and historical justice. His youth, drive and passion, his trump cards as he dismisses the legal boys club surrounding him in search of the truth. His journey, a reminder that legal human rights work still sadly requires people who seek to uncover and overturn fixed boundaries of justice in a world that often looks for an easy route out. After all, as Martin Luther King stated, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”