Ex-IMF head sues over maid sex film
FORMER IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has instructed lawyers to sue the makers of a French movie in which veteran French star Gerard Depardieu plays a sex addict who commits a sexual assault on a hotel maid, his lawyer said yesterday.
Welcome To New York by Abel Ferrara, which had a private screening on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival over the weekend and has been on pay-per-view in France, is billed as a piece of fiction and comes with a legal disclaimer.
But Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyer said the film was defamatory in that its subject matter was similar to the accusations levelled against Mr Strauss-Kahn, who quit the Washington-based International Monetary Fund in 2011 after a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault.
He settled a civil case taken out by the maid after criminal charges were dropped.
"This happened three years ago and he was cleared," lawyer Jean Veil told Europe 1 radio yesterday. "He is frightened, sickened (by the film). He has instructed his lawyers, myself, to make a complaint for defamation based on accusations of rape, on the insinuations made throughout this film."
Film-maker Ferrara said the film was fiction and that he had the right to choose his subjects.
"I'm not on trial," Ferrara said. "I'm an artist, I have freedom of speech. I'm from America - I'm from the country of the free, land of the free and home of the brave."
The film begins with an extended sex-party scene before the encounter between the main character, George Devereau, and a maid. Throughout the over 20-minute scene, the actor Depardieu appears naked and flits from one bacchanalian encounter to another.
Reporters at the screening were handed a gift bag containing condoms and Viagra.
Trade publication Variety called the film in a review "a sure-fire scandal-starter in France" and said the "audacious performance (from Depardieu) is undeniably the picture's chief selling point", a view shared by most critics.
Films that are not competing in the official 12-day film festival at Cannes often hold screenings nonetheless in order to gain publicity. Following the Welcome To New York screening, the film was made available throughout France on pay-per-view.