French film director Luc Besson was taken to court in France on November the 4th for refusing to allow deer hunters in his estate to shoot rogue deer.
Hunters in the Orne area, northern Normandy, accused the 60-year-old director of “The Fifth Element”, “Leon the professional” and “Nikita” of obstructing the national hunting plan by allowing deer to multiply and roam free on his land.
The hunters are asking Besson to pay around €130,000 ($145,000) in compensation for the damage caused by the rogue deer – a sum which a local hunters federation claim has been accumulating since 2014.
“These people are on the wrong side of history”
The damages include compensation for local farmers that, it is claimed, had their land damaged by the 50 or so deer regularly roaming within Besson’s estate.
“In mid-debate over the ecology and biodiversity tragedy hitting the entire planet, Orne hunters are asking me to kill deer that pass by my home?!,” Besson told French newspaper Le Parisien last month.
“Should I have my children watch from the balcony while I’m at it? These people are on the wrong side of history.”
The hunters’ lawyers, Charles Lagier, said that it was irrelevant whether the director supported hunting or not. “He doesn’t hunt, fair enough. We’re in a democracy, that’s his right. But either he accepts the national hunting plan or he pays the price,” he told the court, according to French agency AFP.
Besson acquired the 395-acre estate near La Trinité-des-Laitiers, around half of which is forest, in 1998.
The property includes a red-brick château, which the director, producer and screenwriter uses as a post-production studio.
The trial has been adjourned and a judgement is expected on the 26th of December.
Last month, the “Le Grand Bleu” director denied rape claims put forward by a young actress.
Dutch actress Sand Van Roy, 29, who starred in Besson’s film “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” accused the director of repeatedly raping her over a two-year period.
Besson admitted he had an affair with Van Roy but dismissed the allegations as a “complete and utter lie.”