“We have recently learned of a legal matter that has arisen between the director and the producers of the film ‘London Fields,'” a spokesperson for the festival said in a statement. “We have worked to make our festival a public showcase for creative expression through the moving image, however with uncertainty surrounding the creative vision of the version of the film scheduled to be screened on Sept. 18, we feel it is only appropriate that we remove this film from the festival lineup. We are hopeful that this matter will be resolved positively and that audiences will have the opportunity to see the film.”
The impacted screenings are on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Princess of Wales, Saturday at 3:45 p.m. at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Scotiabank. No replacement films have been announced yet.
However, according to the producers, the movie was pulled because the imagery was “deemed too provocative.”
“We are greatly disappointed that TIFF decided to pull the film from the festival,” producers Chris Hanley and Jorden Gertner said in a statement. “We have always loved launching our films here, but feel that in [this] particular case there has been an ill-considered decision made against our rights.”
Director Mathew Cullen’s suit claimed that producers engaged in “fraudulent efforts” to revise the movie without his knowledge.
According to the lawsuit, producers interjected elements into the movie that “include incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers edited against pornography, as well as juxtaposing the holiest city in Islam against mind control. No crew or cast member signed up for this, nor did plaintiffs.” Cullen’s suit also claims that producers refused to pay him full compensation, refused to provide three cuts and three public screenings of the movie, and refused to produce the movie as a DGA film.
The producers also said that the production company, Muse Productions and Nicola Six Ltd., will “vigorously oppose the lawsuit.”
“The timing and the content of the director’s lawsuit shows that it is a publicity stunt,” the producers said in a statement. “The filing of Mathew Cullen’s complaint violates the arbitration provisions of his own guild, the DGA. Sadly, Mathew can’t deal with the fact that he does not control the final cut of the movie. He was given two deadlines to deliver a ‘director’s cut’ and missed both deadlines. His guild has rules for withdrawing his name from the picture and he missed those deadlines.”
“London Fields,” based on a Martin Amis’ 1989 novel, stars Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton and Jason Isaacs. Lionsgate and Grindstone acquired the movie on Wednesday.
This is the second film that’s been withdrawn from the festival because of legal threats following the Aretha Franklin documentary “Amazing Grace,” directed by Sydney Pollack.