Luc Besson emotionally thanks wife during Venice Film Festival return after being cleared of rape charges

French director returns to spotlight after he was cleared of rape charges in June

Inga Parkel
Friday 01 September 2023 06:40 BST
Venice Film Festival opens

Luc Besson made an emotional return to the film festival circuit on Thursday (31 August) after he was cleared of rape charges in June.

Speaking to the press before the world premiere of his latest action drama, Dogman, at the Venice Film Festival, the 64-year-old French film director fought back tears as he expressed his love of filmmaking.

“The only two things that can save you are love and art, definitely not money. When you have both you’re lucky,” Besson said, according to Singapore’s Channel News Asia.

Reminiscing about his teenage years spent writing screenplays, The Fifth Element director said: “It is my way to escape this world.

“There’s no genius [to it], there is work. You just have to work and work and keep what’s good and work on what’s not good and work on it again.”

Thanking his “tough cookie” wife and producer Virginia Besson-Silla, according to People, he added: “She helped me a lot on the editing. She’s always very cold about it. She doesn’t want to see all the dailies. She wants to stay out, you know, to be able, at the end, to give comments.”

Besson’s return to the spotlight comes after the French Supreme Court cleared him in June of rape charges first brought against him in 2018 by Belgian-Dutch actor Sand Van Roy.

Luc Besson is under investigation over a rape allegation

The actor, who appeared in Besson’s 2017 sci-fi Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, had accused Besson of drugging and sexually assaulting her in a Paris hotel.

Besson’s lawyer, Thierry Marembert, told French news agency Agence France-Presse at the time that the filmmaker “categorically denies these fantasist accusations”.

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Originally, police had opened an investigation into Van Roy’s accusations, but they were dismissed nine months after in February 2019, with Paris prosecutors citing a lack of evidence.

The next month, the actor lodged a civil complaint on the same charges. Following a three-year investigation, those, too, were ultimately dismissed in December 2021.

After two more appeals, Besson was cleared of all charges by the Cour de Cassation, preventing Van Roy from suing the director on the same charges in France or anywhere else in Europe.

Throughout the five-year ordeal, Besson has maintained his innocence, denying all allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.

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