Dutroux case inspires a Luxembourg (co)production

Jani Thiltges of Samsa Film, the Luxembourg producer of 'Son of the Law'.  (Photo: Hadrien Friob)

Jani Thiltges of Samsa Film, the Luxembourg producer of 'Son of the Law'.  (Photo: Hadrien Friob)

The Film Fund Luxembourg will finance €1.5m towards the new film by Belgian director Joachim Lafosse, co-produced by the Luxembourg company Samsa Film. The film is inspired by Victor Hissel, one of the main lawyers in the Dutroux case.

“In the house of François Decourt (58), the lawyer of the victims of the most famous Belgian media case, Raphaël (18), his sister Caroline (20) and their mother Astrid (50) live under the influence of the powerful patriarch who spares no effort to keep his mask on.”

This is how the Film Fund Luxembourg sums up “Fils de la loi” ("The Son of the Law"), the new film by Joachim Lafosse, in its latest report compiling the decisions taken this November by its selection committee.

While all the names of the protagonists have been changed, the character of the lawyer François Decourt seems to be largely inspired by Victor Hissel, the former high-profile adviser to the families of Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo--the two victims of the pedophile Marc Dutroux who were found dead in his home in August 1996. Hissel had eventually been convicted of illegal possession of child pornography. This was revealed after he was seriously injured in April 2009 by his son, Romain. The young man had stabbed him eight times.

A return to the Cannes film festival?

“Son of the Law” is indeed a fictional film, but it is based on real events that took place on the periphery of the Dutroux case. This is not really a first for Joachim Lafosse. The Belgian director already directed “À perdre la raison” in 2012, this time loosely based on the Geneviève Lhermitte case, named after the Belgian mother who murdered her five children in February 2007.

“À perdre la raison” marked the first collaboration between Lafosse and Jani Thiltges, one of Samsa Film's Luxembourg producers. Since then, they have worked together again on “Les Intranquilles”, released this year.

The first film had been selected at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Best Actress Award for Émilie Dequenne. While “Les Intranquilles” was selected at the Croisette this summer.

Shooting in the spring

But all that will be for 2023 or 2024. Because the film will not start shooting until next spring. And it should take place “85% or 90% in Luxembourg”, according to the producer. Location scouting is about to begin.

As for the cast, it is not yet completely finalised. However, the cast and crew should include a number of Luxembourg names, as the Film Fund Luxembourg is financing almost 30% of the film. This means €1.5m out of a budget of just over €5.25m.

This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.