Wards of the State

Documentary - 52 minutes
Wards of the State
Written by Sophie Bredier
Directed by Sophie Bredier
Director of Photography : Jean-Philippe Bouyer
Sound: Yolande Decarsin
Editor: Matthieu Augustin
In association with France Télévisions (France 3)

Wars are generally told from men’s point of view, rarely from women’s or children’s. War hits the soldier hard. When war crushes the warrior, an entire family goes into mourning. Abandoned and left with no resources, especially in times when only men were breadwinners, young orphans quickly learn to surmount despair and incomprehension in order to bear the weight of their situation.


What does being a ward of the state mean? Is it a form of recognition? Is it a privilege? Is it coupled with a duty to the nation? What sorts of family circumstances lead to becoming a ward of the court? Once a child has been adopted by the State, what comes next?


The film’s director investigates by interviewing several families and sets of siblings about what it means to live with this legal status. Their stories vary: missing parents, deported parents, and parents killed at war. But all the stories are told by former wards of the court, now grown-up and old enough to have the necessary hindsight. Orphans from World War I, World War II, the 1951 Korean War, and the War of Algeria, share their differing tales and fates.