When Abel Ferrara‘s Welcome To New York screened in Cannes on Saturday night, Wild Bunch‘s Vincent Maraval was asked about potential lawsuits given the film’s source of inspiration. He responded that the movie was made under American law and had been well vetted by attorneys. But, he tossed out, if anyone wants to “make us publicity, they are welcome.” Looks like he’s getting his way as a lawsuit brews and accusations of anti-Semitism surface.
Related: Cannes: Abel Ferrara’s Sex Scandal Pic ‘Welcome To New York’ Penetrates La Plage
Welcome To New York is inspired by the 2011 sex scandal surrounding former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Gérard Depardieu, in various instances of near-pornographic debauchery, stars as Mr Devereaux, a high-ranking French government offical who is detained in New York after he sexually assaults a hotel maid. Jacqueline Bisset plays his wife Simone, an heiress to a fortune amassed during World War II and a financial supporter of Israel. On France’s Europe 1 radio this morning, Strauss-Kahn’s attorney Jean Veil said his client has instructed his lawyers “to file a suit for defamation owing to the accusations of rape and insinuations which run throughout the film.” Veil said a suit would be filed within a few days, but that Strauss-Kahn had not, and will not, see the movie based on the recommendations of friends that he “protect himself.” He added that he agreed with Strauss-Kahn’s ex-wife Anne Sinclair who on Sunday called the film “anti-Semitic.” Read More »
Abel Ferrara and screenwriter Chris Zois’ Welcome To New York, inspired by the 2011 sex scandal surrounding former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, had its world premiere here in Cannes tonight. Once thought to be a candidate for an Official Selection berth, it instead unspooled in an unofficial capacity inside a tent erected at Nikki Beach (see NSFW trailer below). Stars Gérard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset were on hand for a post-screening press conference about the film that has made headlines ever since it was first floated as a project — and more so now due to an unconventional release plan. Depardieu plays Mr Devereaux, a man who handles billions of dollars a day, controls the economic fate of nations, and dreamed of saving the world but cannot save himself. Bisset plays his wife, Simone. The characters are inspired by Strauss-Kahn and Anne Sinclair. The former was famously alleged in May 2011 to have sexually assaulted a New York hotel employee, but charges were ultimately dropped. Sinclair is a French journalist and heiress from whom the former IMF chief is now divorced.
Although the film comes with a disclaimer at the beginning, there are clear parallels between Devereaux and Strauss-Kahn. Asked if they were concerned about lawsuits, Vincent Maraval, co-founder of production, finance and sales company Wild Bunch, said the movie was made under American law and had been well vetted by attorneys. But, he tossed out, if anyone wants to “make us publicity, they are welcome”. The movie begins with some pretty debauched sex scenes that show Devereaux partying with a coterie of men and women in a hotel suite — they are not for the faint of heart. Depardieu called the subject matter reminiscent of Shakespearian tragedy. He said he was shocked when he saw the film because some of the sex was very violent, but he tried not to pin the characters to “right or wrong.” Devereaux’s character “knows he is sick. … I didn’t want to ask too many questions.” Ferrara also said he was “not making a judgment” with the film. When he showed it to Bernardo Bertolucci recently, the veteran Italian helmer remarked it reminded him of a Warhol film. “It is what it is,” Ferrara said. For those who might consider some of the footage borderline porn, Depardieu cautioned to laughter: “It’s not porno at all. To be porno, you have to see the big dick.” Spoiler alert: There is a scene in which Depardieu’s private parts are exposed, but it’s during a strip search inside a stark prison, so not exactly sexy. Read More »
Drafthouse Films reached back into the vaults to snap up rights to the 1981 revenge thriller Ms. 45, the second film directed by Abel Ferrara after his 1979 horror pic The Driller Killer. The rape and revenge flick follows a mute garment district seamstress (Zoë Lund) who suffers a string of sexual assaults that transform her into a one-woman homicidal angel of vengeance targeting the city’s male population. Ms. 45 bombed upon initial release but subsequently built a cult following, and the vision of Lund packing a pistol in a nun’s habit in the film’s bloody Halloween night scene became an iconic moment in exploitation cinema. (Lund later co-scripted the career-defining Bad Lieutenant for Ferrara.) Drafthouse Films will release Ms. 45 to theaters in a new HD remastering in December accompanied by an uncut DVD and Blu-ray release for the first time in North America. UK specialty label Death Waltz Records will also release the Ms. 45 soundtrack for the first time ever. Drafthouse’s Evan Husney and James Emanuel Shapiro negotiated the deal with David Kravis of Coastline Licensing International, Inc.
American director Abel Ferrara told France’s Le Monde newspaper that he will make a film about disgraced French politician and former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Gérard Depardieu will play the principal role in the film that will revolve around Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after he was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York. Isabelle Adjani will play his wife Anne Sinclair. Prior to Strauss-Kahn’s resignation, he had been a frontrunner in France’s Socialist Party to challenge incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy for the presidency. Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval told Le Monde: “It’s true that we’d like Abel to shoot in June, but he has 4 projects in mind and we haven’t yet made our decision.” Ferrara added, “Vincent doesn’t want to talk about this project, that’s normal, he’s the producer. But I’m the director! No one is going to stop me talking about my film.” The charges against Strauss-Kahn were eventually dropped, but the aftermath brought out other accusations of harassment in France and has likely fatally wounded any ambitions for national office.
EXCLUSIVE: ICM has signed Willem Dafoe, the veteran actor who just wrapped the Andrew Stanton-directed Disney film John Carter, with Taylor Kitsch playing the title character. Dafoe had been repped by WME. Dafoe has been working up a storm. He starred in The Hunter, a film that premiered at Toronto and has been acquired by Magnolia for release next year. He also completed production on Odd Thomas, the adaptation of the Dean Koontz novel that stars Anton Yelchin; the Abel Ferrara-directed 444 Last Day On Earth; and Boot Tracks with Michelle Monaghan. Dafoe continues to be managed by D/F Management.