France drops sexual assault probe against director Abdellatif Kechiche

PARIS (AFP) - French prosecutors have dropped an investigation into accusations of sexual assault against Franco-Tunisian film director Abdellatif Kechiche, whose 2013 film Blue Is The Warmest Colour won the top prize at the Cannes film festival, a source said on Tuesday (May 19).

There was not enough evidence to suggest an offence had been committed, said the source in the office of Paris prosecutors, who asked not to be named.

"For once, reason has triumphed over pathos," the director's lawyer Jeremie Assous told AFP.

A woman, aged 29 at the time, alleged in 2018 she was assaulted by the director in an apartment in Paris after attending a dinner party with him.

The woman claimed she fell asleep after consuming several alcoholic drinks and woke up to find herself partially undressed and being molested by Kechiche.

He always vehemently denied the charges.

Blue Is The Warmest Colour, a three-hour film about a blue-haired art student and her intense erotic relationship with a younger girl in her teens, wowed the Cannes festival in 2013 but was tarnished by a row afterwards between Kechiche and the young stars.

Actress Lea Seydoux complained that she felt like "a prostitute" when filming the movie's lengthy, explicit sex scenes and described the experience of shooting with Kechiche as "horrible".

The director, a former actor with a host of movie awards to his name in France, said he felt "great regret" at the controversy and ended up saying he would have preferred the film not to have been released because it had been "soiled" by the criticism.

His latest film, Mektoub My Love: Intermezzo, which contains even more explicit sex scenes, caused immense controversy when shown at the 2019 Cannes festival.

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