×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Miley Cyrus Records Song for ‘Free the Nipple’ Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

Miley Cyrus has recorded a cover of Melanie Safka’s “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma” for the Sundance Selects satire “Free the Nipple,” Variety has learned.

Lina Esco, 29, is making her directorial debut on the feature about female activists who challenge censorship laws by going topless in public. Esco, who is also an actress, met Cyrus on 2012’s “LOL,” and showed her an early cut of “Free the Nipple” over the summer. That’s when Cyrus agreed to put her own spin on the tune for the film’s closing credits.

Cyrus recorded the song last August in two takes. She’s performed “Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma” before, but this version—produced by Nick Littlemore and Peter Mayes—sounds different. “It’s more rock ‘n’ roll,” Esco says. “It’s very Johnny Cash. Her voice is so raw, and the song is so raw.”

Esco started a feminist movement when she coined the phrase “Free the Nipple” in 2013, which has since been championed by Lena Dunham, Liv Tyler and Rihanna. The campaign, which has attracted 122,000 Twitter followers, opposes laws in 37 states that make it illegal for women to show their breasts in public.

“This is about equality,” Esco says. “You can show beheadings on Facebook, but you can’t show breastfeeding. If you’re going to censor nudity and love, you should censor violence.”

She came up with the idea for the movie, and when she started sharing the phrase, it went viral online (this tweet from Cyrus helped).

The film, which cost just under $1 million, was shot in six weeks in New York, but Esco ran into problems when police wouldn’t allow her actresses to appear topless in the streets.

“I’m making a movie called ‘Free the Nipple,’ and I can’t show boobs,” Esco says. “I had to go and steal the shots. We went and mapped out all the locations, rehearsed with clothes on and did it all in one take.”

“Free the Nipple” opens in theaters and on VOD on Dec. 12.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Joker Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

    Box Office: Villains Face Off Again as 'Joker' and 'Maleficent' Battle for First Place

    Despite three new nationwide releases, domestic box office charts look to be dominated by holdovers — Warner Bros.’ “Joker” and Disney’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” — during the last weekend in October. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” debuted last weekend with $36 million in North America, enough to dethrone “Joker” after the super-villain origin story’s back-to-back [...]

  • Yasushi Shiina

    Tokyo Market is Finding New Strengths, Says Yasushi Shiina

    Clouds on the global economic horizon and disruption to the scheduling of the event, have done little to dampen the interest of foreign visitors to TIFFCOM, Japan’s biggest film and TV market. Especially those from China, says market head, Yasushi Shiina. The market is again running at the Sunshine City shopping, entertainment and business complex [...]

  • "Weathering With You" directed by Makoto

    Toho Unveils Dual Media Romance 'Love Me, Love Me Not' at Tokyo Market

    Japan’s biggest film company, which produces, distributes and exhibits its own product in partnership with leading media companies, Toho has brought a line-up to TIFFCOM full of present and future hits. The biggest is “Weathering with You,” the love story animation by Makoto Shinkai that surpassed the $100 million mark only a month after its [...]

  • Hit Me Anyone One More Time

    TIFFCOM: Pony Canyon Saddles up FujiTV's Smash 'Hit Me Anyone'

    One of Japan’s five major broadcast networks, Fuji TV has also been a pioneer and leader among the networks in feature film production. This year at TIFFCOM long-time partner Pony Canyon is representing Fuji TV films that have recently hit number one at the Japanese box office. Among the hottest, with three straight weeks atop [...]

  • Martin Scorsese Avengers

    Are Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola Right About Marvel? (Column)

    If you want to shoot holes in the comments that Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola made recently about Marvel movies (Scorsese: “That’s not cinema”; Coppola: “Martin was being kind when he said it wasn’t cinema. He didn’t say it was despicable, which is what I say”), then go right ahead, because they’ve practically handed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content