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Hippocrates (Hippocrate)

Directed by Thomas Lilti

  • France 2014; 101 min
  • Original version: French
  • Genre: Comedy drama
    • Best Film - My French Film Festival


Benjamin is meant to be a great doctor, he’s sure of it. But his first experience as a junior doctor in the hospital ward where his father works doesn’t turn out the way he hoped it would. Responsibility is overwhelming, his father is all but present, and his co-junior partner, a foreign doctor, is far more experienced than he is. This internship will force Benjamin to confront his limits…and start his way to adulthood.

Director's Statement

I am both a doctor and a filmmaker. I learned both jobs in parallel: for medicine, I followed the traditional academic route and for cinema, I learned on the job. For a long time, I kept each one very separate from the other, whereas in fact they have quite a lot in common, team work and the collaboration with a wide range of specialists being just two similarities. HIPPOCRATES however focuses on their main difference: the weight of the responsibility borne by doctors, this perpetual feeling of doubt, the loss of a certain carefree attitude that it entails.
I wanted to step away from the clichés of hospital life circulated by TV series and that have seeped into the collective consciousness. One of the things I did was to focus more on the actual workers than on the place of work itself, without betraying the realities of the hospital itself. I aimed to be quite realistic, but also include a certain Romanesque feel. This can only really work if the environment it unfolds in is credible in its most intricate detail: so for the slightest injection shown on screen, I wanted the exact needle to be used. But for all that, it is not a documentary; as a filmmaker I aim to entertain, without slipping into the usual medical thriller template.
Hospitals nowadays don't always look ultra-modern: some are disused, abandoned. The bigwigs are now civil servants who, without being penniless, still earn far less than private practitioners: 30 to 40% of doctors are foreign, and come from countries outside the EU, they are poorly paid and live precariously. I wanted to convey all this without making it too academic, this isn't a political pamphlet.






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    Camille Neel