They always said that one day a movie would be made on this hot topic. Well, it’s been done. Documentary film director Jalil Lespert returns to the scene of the crime that brought down not only one of the most powerful men in the western world, but a potential candidate for the next President of France.
Who is DSK? Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Professor of Economics. Minister of Economy and Finance from 1997 to 1999. Former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and a controversial figure in the French Socialist Party due to his involvement in several financial and sexual scandals.
Where did the crime occur? In room 2806 of the Sofitel hotel in New York City.
Who was involved? Nafissatou Diallo, a refugee from Guinea (West Africa) who lived in the Bronx and worked as a maid at the hotel.
What was the charge? Sexual assault. Diallo alleged that Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted her after she entered his suite.
Was there a settlement? Reportedly, DSK paid Diallo 1.5 million dollars. Today she divides her life between Dakar, Senegal and NYC where her daughter lives.
Here’s my blog post on the subject that I wrote way back in 2013 –
Two events brusquely jolted the French out of their reverie vis-a-vis their archaic attitudes towards women: the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York in May 2011 and the arrival onto French soil of the feminist Ukrainian group, FEMEN, at about the same time. On a Sunday morning, over croissants and steaming bowls of café au lait, the entire nation stared with collective incredulity at their TV screens. What were they looking at? Surreal images played over and over for all the world to see of their well-known countryman and respected economist – who was not only the head of the IMF in Washington, but candidate to be the next president of France! – handcuffed, unshaven and flanked on either side by burly New York policemen before being shoved into the back of a car and driven off to prison on charges of alleged criminal sexual assault. This was reality TV at its most horrific. It was, as the French press called it, an electroshock.
There’s nothing like a pair of handcuffs and the clang of a Rikers Island prison gate to shrivel a sex offender’s dick.
Flash-forward two years: it took half a year for the French to come out of denial. During that time we had to endure endless TV talk shows (what, again?) and long, tortuous, psycho-babble written in weekly magazines dissecting what was so obvious to us outsiders (that DSK was guilty), and seemingly oblivious to them. Two-thirds of the country believed it was a Sarkozy-orchestrated plot. In collusion with the French-owned Sofitel hotel where the assault took place, they imagined that Sarkozy had planned the whole thing in an attempt to sabotage DSK’s presidency bid.
Had this calamity occurred in Paris it would’ve been swiftly silenced, just like Strauss-Kahn’s prior transgressions had been silenced by the practice of a mafia-like code of honour here called omerta. For decades (we later learned) DSK had been groping and harassing women. Either none of the victims had come forward to complain, or they had come forward but were jeered at and dismissed by the macho men’s club that runs the Gallic corridors of power. The wake-up call that France sorely needed to shake itself out of its dusty, last-century torpor were those TV images of DSK in handcuffs played over and over with the eyes of the outside world looking on: judging and criticizing unacceptable French behaviour that had carried on, unchallenged, for centuries; unchallenged by both men and women. Better late than never, I suppose.
See the trailer below. The one line that stands out is this – “He didn’t believe he did anything wrong, other than to get caught.”