Film Series

Welcome to New York: Screening and Conversation

November 2, 2016

A controversial 2014 feature film closely based on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair and starring French film icon, Gerard Depardieu. The man who might have become the next President of France was hauled off of an airliner headed back to his country and arrested for having allegedly raped a chambermaid in his Manhattan Hotel shortly before he departed for France. The film takes its liberties with the truth, but largely tracks the case that gripped New Yorkers, and the entire population of France, until the prosecution dropped all charges and declined to take the case to trial.

Our discussion went beyond the film to address the actual case, with celebrated criminal defense attorney, Benjamin Brafman, who represented Strauss-Kahn and who is depicted in the film.

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Benjamin Brafman
Criminal Defense Attorney

Benjamin Brafman is the principal of a seven-lawyer firm, Brafman & Associates, P.C., located in Manhattan. Mr. Brafman’s firm specializes in criminal defense.

Mr. Brafman, a former Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, has been in private practice since 1980.

Mr. Brafman was selected by New York Magazine as the “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in New York” and was presented with the “first” ever Clarence Darrow Award for Distinguished Practitioner by the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Mr. Brafman has represented a wide range of high-profile celebrities, athletes, business leaders, lawyers and other professionals in significant criminal cases throughout the country, including Jay Z, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Plaxico Burress, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Martin Shkreli.

Mr. Brafman is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and his acquittal record in complex criminal trials in both State and Federal Courts is among the highest in New York City. He lectures widely throughout the United States on issues related to trial advocacy and is considered by many seasoned professionals to be an expert in the art of cross-examination.


Linda Fairstein
Author & Former Prosecutor

Lawyer, former prosecutor, and internationally best-selling crime novelist, Linda Fairstein is one of America’s foremost legal experts on crimes of violence against women and children.

For three decades, from 1972 until 2002, Fairstein served in the office of the New York County District Attorney, where she was chief of the country’s pioneering Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit for twenty-six years. Fairstein is an honors graduate of Vassar College (1969) and the University of Virginia School of Law (1972). In 1998, her law school classmates established a scholarship fund in her honor at their alma mater, supporting law school students interested in pursuing careers in the public sector.

She has received numerous awards for her legal work and advocacy, and in many instances, was the first woman to be so honored. These include the Federal Bar Council’s Emory Buckner Award for Public Service and the UJA Federation’s Proskauer Award. For her pioneering work on behalf of victims of violence, she received Columbia University’s School of Medicine and School of Nursing Award for Excellence; the Anti-Violence Project “Courage” Award; Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year Award; the American Heart Association Women of Courage award, and scores of similar honors. In 2010, Fairstein was awarded the New York Women’s Agenda Lifetime Achievement Award for her domestic violence work, and the Silver Bullet Award of the International Thriller Writers.

Ms. Fairstein’s 18th novel, Killer Look, was published in August, 2016, and was her 15th consecutive New York Times bestseller. She is also the author of a non-fiction work, Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape (1993), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Fairstein is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a member of the International Society of Barristers, and a trustee of Vassar College. She serves as an adviser to the National Basketball Association on domestic violence issues, and to colleges and universities on campus sexual assault.


Ronald Guttman

Ronald Guttman is an actor. Upcoming television appearances include Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle. Film credits include: Nina, Welcome to New York, Girl Most Likely, Pawn, 13, Tickling Leo, 27 Dresses, The Hunt for Red October, August Rush, Avalon, and Danton.

Recent television credits: Baskets, The Blacklist, Madam Secretary, Elementary, The Good Wife, Mad Men, and Mildred Pierce, among others.

Theater credits include: Steve Martin’s Picasso at The Lapin Agile (Long Wharf Theatre), Bauer (San Francisco Playhouse [nominated for Best Principal Actor 2014]), The Master and Margarita (Bard SummerScape), The Fifth Column and The Lonely Way (Mint Theater), and Coastal Disturbances (Circle in the Square Theatre).

Founder of Highbrow, a production company for independent film and theater: Satchmo at the Waldorf, My Name Is Asher Lev, OPEN presents Six by Zohar Tirosh-Polk, The Man Who Ate Michael Rockefeller, This Wide Night, Masked, Dai (enough), Christine Jorgensen Reveals, and Dario Fo’s A Tale of a Tiger.


William Rashbaum

William K. Rashbaum is a senior writer on the metropolitan staff of The New York Times, where he focuses on political and municipal corruption, the courts, terrorism and broader law enforcement topics.

Previously, he covered federal court in Brooklyn and served as the newspaper’s police bureau chief. He joined The Times in 1999, and has spent three decades writing about crime in New York, the city’s police department and the mob.

Mr. Rashbaum was a member of a team of Times reporters that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for its reporting on New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s involvement with prostitutes. He and several other reporters also wrote a series of stories about the role of Mr. Spitzer’s successor, Gov. David Paterson, in protecting an aide who had abused his girlfriend. The allegations led Mr. Paterson to abandon his gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

In 2014, he and two colleagues wrote a series of stories about a state anti-corruption commission created with by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who abruptly shut it down nine months later. The stories showed that the governor and his aides had interfered with the panel’s work when it focused on people or groups that were close to him. Mr. Cuomo’s shutdown of the panel, known as the Moreland Commission, led to several federal investigations, including one focused on his role in halting its work.

A reporter since 1983, he has worked at the Hearst Newspapers, UPI, Reuters and New York Newsday, heading that newspaper’s police bureau until 1995. Most recently before joining The Times, he spent four years at the New York Daily News covering crime and writing longer-term investigative stories.