12 jurors from various walks of life, different social Status are in session deciding on the fate of a Chechen teenager charged with murder in the first degree of his step father, former officer of Spetsnaz, who had been involved in operations in Chechnya.
Simple words of one of the jurors: "Let us at least simply talk about it" cause rage of others. In their view there is nothing to talk about when both the investigators and the prosecutor said "guilty". They are more clever and competent than we are. What is there to talk about then? It looks like there is.
About ourselves...
Every character bears a grudge and pain for some unfairness which once happened in his life or in the life of a relative or a friend. And we find out that law cannot exist in our country in an emotionless context. The law touches upon the soul of someone who is chosen to make a decision. And there is something to talk about here!
One' s own pain, suffering and compassion struggle through another dimension. Could the boy at least have been Russian! But he is a Chechen. A person from an ethnicity with which Russia for centuries has been in the turmoil of a conflict..
Not only the legal facts, but more their understanding of the psychology of those who had been giving evidence against the boy, is what makes the jurors gradually change their verdict.
And still, at the end of the tunnel there remains one question: what is freedom? For the boy, for the jurors, for everybody living in this country.

Director's Statement

The film has given us a framework to talk about profound human fears, sins, about despair of total loneliness and vulnerability of a human being.
We have taken a cross section of the contemporary Russian society whereby the conflict among the jurors overflows the jury room and rise to the level of discussion and understanding of who we, the contemporary Russians, are, and what is that brink of mutual hatred we have all come to, and how deeply hidden, if not absent at all, inside us are the simple human values of humanism, fairness and objectivity.
For us this film is a means of raising the same "important human issues", which Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov were so infatuated with. But all of them run into the only answer: every human is not a means, but a goal.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Nikita Mikhalkov

Written by: Nikita Mikhalkov, Alexander Novototsky-Vlasov, Vladimir Moiseenko

Produced by: Nikita Mikhalkov, Leonid Veretchaguine

Cinematography: Vladislav Opelyants

Cast: Sergey Makovetskiy (12th juror), Sergey Garmash (3rd juror)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2008