Is cinema the handmaid of international criminal justice?
in Cinematic perspectives on international law
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Cinema has devoted increasing attention to international criminal justice, especially in the last two decades. Viewers of films and TV series related to the prosecution of international crimes note that cinema can be very supportive of what international criminal justice is and how it works, either by conveying romanticized images about its aims and achievements, or by explaining – not to say justifying – its weaknesses. In some movies, it is depicted as an adequate and efficient tool to fight the impunity. It is also frequently pictured as a mechanism requested by victims, or at least called for in their names. Movies also show the fragility of international justice in the face of politics, underlining and condemning the reluctance of States and international organizations to cooperate, have suspects arrested and evidence collected. These films, however, do not fundamentally undermine the legitimacy of international criminal justice as we are frequently left with the impression that prosecutors and judges do their best to fight impunity and often succeed in overcoming political obstacles. Fundamental scepticism is also sometimes voiced suggesting that international justice is but a spectacle, a diversion, or subject to instrumentalization. These critiques, however, do not override the heroic role with which cinema generally entrusts international criminal justice.

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