Cannes: Dominique Strauss-Kahn to Sue Over Abel Ferrara's 'Welcome to New York'

6:37 AM PST 05/19/2014 by Rhonda Richford, Georg Szalai
Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images
Dominique Strauss-Kahn

The former IMF chief's lawyer tells French radio that the film, which screened outside the film festival in Cannes on Saturday, is "a turd" and said that DSK was “heartbroken and terrified.”

CANNES – Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn plans to file a defamation lawsuit in the coming days over Abel Ferrara's Welcome to New York, which the producers screened here independently during the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

The fictional film inspired by the sexual assault charges against the man known in France simply as DSK is "a piece of shit, a turd," French media, including the Agence France Press, quoted Strauss-Kahn's lawyer Jean Veil as saying. 

Veil told French radio station Europe 1 about the planned suit. “It will be for defamation and will cover all the extracts on the rape and the way, in which Dominque Strauss Kahn is portrayed," he said. He added that DSK was “heartbroken and terrified” by the film and that his client has not and will not see it.

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"Friends, relatives, and lawyers have advised him to protect himself and not watch this horrible film," he said.

Wild Bunch co-chief Vincent Maraval in a reaction to the planned lawsuit said: “This is their right.” On Saturday, he had said that his team had no legal concerns. "We made the film under American law," he said at a press conference. "We’ve done what all U.S. productions do which is to consult lawyers."

 

Interviewed by Reuters TV in Cannes, Ferrara said that the film was fiction and that he had the right to choose his subjects. "I'm not on trial," he 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."
 
In the film, the character is called Mr. Deveraux for legal reasons, but it is widely seen to be DSK.

"Just listen to the interviews given by those involved to understand that it is Strauss-Kahn,” said Veil. However, he claimed his client does not want a ban of the film: "The procedures are long, it is likely that the French courts are reluctant, and it must be remembered that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not a censor," the lawyer said.

"If he were to seek a ban, the courts would likely not rule in his favor; DSK sought to ban the publication of Beauty and the Beast by former mistress Marcela Iacub detailing their relationship (though he was never specifically named in the book), but courts ruled against him.

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DSK's ex-wife Anne Sinclair, portrayed by Jacqueline Bisset in the film, also denounced the movie on Sunday. She called the film’s portrayal of her family anti-Semitic. 

"Allusions to my family during [World War II] are degrading and defamatory," she wrote on the French version of The Huffington Post, where she is editor. The movie's portrayal of the Sinclairs implies that they were Nazi collaborators and profiteers during the war, observers have said. Sinclair’s grandfather had his citizenship stripped and property confiscated by the Vichy government and fought in the French resistance though.

Sinclair said she has no plans to sue.

Gerard Depardieu this weekend in Cannes called Welcome to New York a "Shakespearean tragedy." He said: "It is all about money, sex and power."

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