Police in Paris have opened an investigation after an actress accused French film director Luc Besson of rape, judicial sources said Saturday.
“Luc Besson categorically denies these fantasist accusations,” the film-maker’s lawyer Thierry Marembert told AFP. “(The complainant) is someone he knows, towards whom he has never behaved inappropriately.”
Judicial sources said a “complaint has been made for acts qualifying as rape by the plaintiff which happened Thursday night into Friday in Paris,” adding that police were investigating the allegation against the 59-year-old.
Sources said the woman went to police on Friday to file a complaint against Besson, who notably directed The Big Blue, Nikita and Leon, after the alleged assault at the Bristol hotel in the French capital.
The complainant said she had been in a relationship with Besson for around two years, stating she felt pressured into being intimate with him for professional reasons.
One source close to the investigation said Besson was out of the country and had not been questioned.
According to Europe 1 radio, which broke the story, Besson’s accuser said she had “drunk a cup of tea, then felt unwell and lost consciousness”.
The station quoted her as saying that when she came round she remembered being sexually assaulted.
Giant of French cinema
Besson, who is married to a film producer, has three children with his wife and two more from previous relationships.
He has been married four times, including to US actress Milla Jovovich.
Besson is a top name in the French cinema world with 12 Cesar nominations the country’s equivalent of the Oscars and 17 films under his belt.
His 1998 sci-fi blockbuster The Fifth Element, starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Jovovich, won him his only Cesar national award to date.
A high school dropout who unlike many of his French peers did not attend the prestigious Femis cinema school, Besson learned film-making on the job.
He has attributed his vivid imagination to a solitary childhood spent between Greece and the former Yugoslavia, where his parents worked as scuba-diving instructors.
“At sixteen I had already written a good number of my films, including The Fifth Element,” he likes to recall.
After internships as an assistant director he made his first short film in 1981, developing it into his first feature-length movie, The Last Battle, two years later.
His commercial success has not always been matched by critics’ approval.
His 1988 cult classic The Big Blue, a tale of rivalry between two champion free divers, was savaged by the press before eventually showing to nearly 12 million people in cinemas around the world.
Besson’s production company EuropaCorp has been battling financial difficulties over the past year with its blockbuster “Valerian” 3D space opera proving a flop.
He was however the best paid French film director last year, earning €4.44 million.
He is regarded as politically influential, having succeeded in convincing authorities to modify tax rules to make it more attractive to shoot movies in France.
He has also campaigned for greater visibility of poor communities in depressed French suburbs, not just through his films but by setting up his Cite du Cinema film studio and school in Seine-Saint-Denis north of Paris, one of France’s poorest regions.
Date created : 2018-05-20