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Abel Ferrara faces legal threat from former IMF chief over new film

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May 19, 2014 | 12:22pm EDT

Director Abel Ferrara is facing legal action from former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn after basing his new film Welcome To New York on the disgraced businessman's 2011 sex scandal. The Frenchman was forced to step down as the head of the IMF in 2011 after he was caught up in a hotel rape scandal in the Big Apple. The charges against him were dropped, but the fall-out cost him his job and his marriage. Ferrara decided to use the headline-grabbing controversy as the inspiration for his latest project, which was screened over the weekend (17-18May14) during the Cannes International Film Festival in France. For legal reasons, Strauss-Kahn is not mentioned by name in the movie, a fictionalised account of his downfall, but the story of Gerard Depardieu's lead character Mr. Devereaux bears strong similarities to the real-life details of the former politician's case, and now he is planning to sue Ferrara for defamation - even though the picture opens with a disclaimer, insisting, "The characters portrayed in the film and all sequences depicting their private lives remain entirely fictional". The 65 year old's lawyer, Jean Veil, reveals his client is "disgusted and frightened" by the film, and is determined to take the director to court for "defamation over the accusations of rape and the insinuations made throughout the movie". Speaking to French radio station Europe 1 on Monday (19May14), Veil said, "The prosecutor in New York cleared him of all charges (and) he has a right to be forgotten like everyone else." However, the threat of legal action has not fazed Ferrara, who claims his work is the result of "freedom of expression". The defiant filmmaker adds, "(Strauss-Kahn) is not the only guy who got caught in a situation like this. Let my lawyer talk to his lawyer."

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