Director Abel Ferrara is calling for a boycott of the US edit of his new film based on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape trial, accusing the distributors of changing the message of the director's cut to make the former IMF chief look better.
[Strauss-Kahn was accused of raping a hotel maid in 2011, prompting police to haul him off a Paris-bound flight to ensure he'd stand trial. The case fell apart and the charges were eventually dismissed.]
A director's cut of the film premiered at several film festivals, and now IFC Films is getting ready to release the US edit. To get to that version, the film's producer—French distribution company Wild Bunch—reportedly cut around 17 minutes—including parts of an opening orgy montage. And, Page Six reports, the rape scene at the center of the story was fundamentally edited.
"My film says 'no means no' and 'violence to women is not an option,'" Ferrara told me. "Their film says, 'this is an innocent man being harassed by the NYPD.' It lets DSK off the hook."
The mercurial director of "King of New York" and "Bad Lieutenant" claims Wild Bunch, the French distributing company that produced the film, have violated his right to the final cut, and butchered his critically acclaimed movie to be less-damning of DSK.
The crucial scene where DSK is depicted as raping hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo is now edited as a flashback — a dream the maid has.
But despite Ferrara's final-cut claims to the contrary, Wild Bunch's Vincent Maraval tells Indiewire Ferrara knew all along the film had to be rated R—a move that reportedly guaranteed the production a bigger budget and a Showtime release.
Ferrara's contract stipulated that if his movie lacked an R rating he would lose final cut. "This was a provision he accepted to get the money to finance the film as it was a bigger budget than his previous ones," Maraval told Indiewire. "We sold it to IFC at a price reflecting that budget and guaranteed them the same possibility as they were paying a price that was important and needed such a rating for a TV sale to recoup their investment."
And the dispute has apparently moved beyond tersely worded statements. In addition to the legal threats, IFC also claims Ferrara made "threats of violence toward the IFC Center last September," prompting them to cancel a screening of his movie.
IFC clarifies the edits were made solely by Wild Bunch—which guaranteed IFC an R-rated version of the film—after Ferrara refused to make the changes himself.
Our contract with Wild Bunch (the film's sales agent ) is for an R-rated version. We have been trying to get Mr. Ferrara to prepare an R Rated version of the film for us since Sept. of 2013. He has never responded to any of our offers. After his threats of violence towards the IFC Center last September, we decided we could not risk showing the film there, but we offered to screen his original directors cut at the Anthology Film Archives theater in New York. It is our understanding that the theater was in touch with Abel Ferrara, after which they declined to screen it.
On March 27th, we will be releasing on VOD and in select theaters the R-rated version of Welcome to New York that has been delivered to us by the film's financier Wild Bunch, in accordance with our contractual obligation. Any edits made to the original version of Welcome to New York were made by Wild Bunch, since again Mr. Ferrara did not respond to our offer.
It's a core mission of IFC Films to support and champion our filmmakers and we regret that Mr. Ferrara has refused to engage with us past slinging mud and insults. We'd have welcomed the opportunity to work more closely with him on the film, if he'd been willing.
We understand that he wants us to just change our minds and release the film unrated and he notes that we have released unrated films in the past. However, the economics of every film are different and in this situation the economics on this film necessitate a theatrical release of an R rated version for many reasons. This was made clear from the start and is what Wild Bunch agreed to in our contract. We have made every effort to make this work for Mr. Ferrara and we are very sorry that he refuses to engage in ANY meaningful dialogue over this matter.
[image via AP]