“Prisoner of my material and emotional shortcomings, I was the perfect breeding ground for all types of abuse”

Every morning, when the alarm breaks through the fog of her restless sleep, Isild Le Besco wonders why she decided to publish a book. Why she is preparing to place her intimacy hit by violence on the tables of bookstores across the country. Why put yourself through all that, the media, the inevitable virulent reactions from those close to you, the painful controversies. The train of her thoughts always takes her to the same place: she has no choice, her survival is at stake. “Each of the women pushed into the horrible, who has managed to recover, because some do not recover and die, has the duty to speak for the others. For me, it’s thanks to my children that I didn’t commit suicide. I will not be at peace until I have restored what I have managed to surpass, she asserts, in one of those sharp flights of fancy that she sometimes formulates.

This book, Say true, which is published by Denoël editions of 1er may never have existed without a train journey. The one that connects Drôme, where the 41-year-old author and director has lived since confinement, and Paris, which she goes to for her obligations. On board this TGV, in April 2023, a very agitated passenger attacks the passengers. Isild Le Besco gets up and asks him to leave. The woman, aged around twenty, insults him, punches him, sticks a finger in his eye. She escaped with a damaged cornea, twenty-four days of temporary incapacity for work and the need to repeat over and over on the telephone to her little sister that she was not “not a victim”.

His attack on the train constitutes the opening scene of his book. This event is also the beginning of a realization: the violence she suffered are not isolated incidents, but linked events that are self-generated. “Prisoner of my material and emotional shortcomings, I was the perfect breeding ground for all types of mistreatment,” she writes. Isild Le Besco traces a continuity between her childhood, her beginnings in French cinema, the relationship of her older sister, the actress and director Maïwenn, with the director and producer Luc Besson, the predation exercised on her by the filmmaker Benoît Jacquot (at the start of their relationship Isild Le Besco is 16, he is 52), the story with the father of her children and the fact that today she comes out crushed but carried by the need to write to rebuild herself . Her work joins other similar stories produced in recent years by women such as Flavie Flament, Vanessa Springora, Camille Kouchner, Hélène Devynck and Judith Chemla.

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