“From the start, I knew that this story was going to go around the world “. These words are those of Paul Browne, spokesperson for the New York police force in the DSK affair in 2011. That year, the boss of the International Monetary Fund and French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of rape by Nafissatou Diallo, then housekeeper at the Sofitel hotel in New York. In this case, the American justice had pronounced a non-suit in the penal aspect and a financial arrangement had been found between the two parties in the civil procedure.
Room 2806, named after the suite where Dominique Strauss-Kahn stayed, looks back on the events in the form of a documentary mini-series broadcast on Netflix since December 7 and co-produced by the Capa agency. It is entirely directed by the French actor Jalil Lespert (Human ressources) and director (Yves Saint Laurent, Turkey), who signs here his first documentary.
“Everyone has an opinion, has seen, heard someone say something, in a kind of general melee that prevents objectivity “, comments the director on Europe 1. “From the start, we wanted to be as objective as possible. Clarify facts“. Without making any new revelations, the series painstakingly traces the history based on numerous testimonies.
Without the support of a voice-over, the narration is essentially based on the accounts of witnesses, police officers, journalists, lawyers who will parade in front of the cameras to trace the course of events, from the arrival of Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the Sofitel to the abandonment of prosecutions within the framework of criminal proceedings. Nafissatou Diallo, in particular, delivers a long testimony. Out of respect for the contradictory, the documentary also questions Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, some of his relatives or collaborators. Only the former head of the IMF is missing. The latter refused to speak but announced that he will give his version of the facts in another documentary in preparation.
The stories are supported by numerous archival images: television reports, photographs, video surveillance … They are accompanied by sober reconstructions, with sequences showing the places of empty events, as if frozen in time. Aerial shots of New York and Paris make the transition between the legal narrative in the United States and the political fallout in France.
The documentary opens with a recording of the Sofitel’s call to the police and then traces the arrival of Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the hotel, the testimony of Nafissatou Diallo of the events and the arrest of Strauss-Kahn at the airport. But he quickly drops the chronological narrative to operate many flashbacks. For example, we come back to 2008 during the crisis when Dominique Strauss-Kahn was head of the IMF, before retracing his career as an economics professor, his rise within the Socialist Party which will propel him to the Ministry of Finance then in the race for the presidential election.
Alongside the Sofitel, Room 2806 looks at other “cases”: Piroska Nagy accuses Dominique Strauss-Kahn of abuse of power in 2008, the writer Tristane Banon of attempted rape in 2011 and he is indicted for “aggravated pimping by an organized gang“in the Carlton de Lille affair. The documentary also dwells on the way these cases are handled by the media or in the political world.
This documentary series offers a new perspective, enabled by historical hindsight. The DSK affair predates another affair that will upset our paradigms, the Weinstein affair. And this can be seen as much from the American point of view as from the French side.
In France, “the first impetus of the Socialist Party is first of all to defend and pity Dominique Strauss-Kahn. We are not talking about Nafissatou Diallo at all, she is completely evacuated from the reactions “, analyzes journalist Raphaëlle Bacqué, interviewed in the documentary. Some sequences are edifying, like the one where Tristane Banon tells at Thierry Ardisson to have been the victim of an attempted rape, in a certain indifference. “We’re long before MeToo so it’s still super funny. There are still a lot of guys who find it funny, because no one has explained to them that it is not funny “, testifies the writer and journalist.
“This is the last big deal before #MeToo, and that is something that we became aware of throughout the production, when we met American feminists, officials of victim aid associations in the United States who tell us themselves that this case was kind of the spark that ignited #MeToo“, estimates the co-producer of the series Philippe Levasseur, on the waves of franceinfo.”The freedom to speak probably also comes from the fact that Tristane Banon or Nafissatou Diallo dared to speak at the time “, he advances.
By: Jalil Lespert
Duration: 4 x 45 min
Released: December 7, 2020
Broadcasting: Netflix, VOD
Synopsis : This documentary series traces the sexual assault case that involved Dominique Strauss Kahn in 2011, then at the height of his career.