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Amazon Sued Over Use of Artist’s Work in ‘Suspiria’

The Estate of Ana Mendieta sued Amazon Studios on Thursday, alleging that the film “Suspiria” borrows from the late artist’s work.

The suit alleges that the film and the trailer used images that were derived from two of Mendieta’s pieces from the 1970s, “Rape Scene” and “Untitled (Silueta Series, Mexico).” Director Luca Guadagnino has given interviews in which he said he was inspired by Mendieta’s work. In one interview, he said he wanted to remake the original “Suspiria” because it was “soaked in the ideas of feminist art.”

Mendieta was a Cuban-American artist who addressed themes of violence against women, and used images of nature to create silhouettes of her body. She died, at 36, in a fall from a New York apartment tower in 1985. Her husband, sculptor Carl Andre, was tried and acquitted of murder.

According to the lawsuit, her estate is managed by her sister, Raquelin Mendieta, and her niece, Raquel Cecilia Mendieta. The estate allows her work to be reproduced for scholarly purposes, but not for commercial use.

The suit alleges that the “Suspiria” trailer, which was released in June, contained two images that were derived from Mendieta’s work. One image showed a woman’s hands bound with rope across a white table, which was alleged to be derived from “Rape Scene.” The second showed a silhouette of a body on a sheet, which the estate claimed was based on “Silueta Series.”

The estate sent a cease and desist letter to Amazon in July. In late August, Amazon dropped a second trailer that did not contain the images. The studio screened the film for the estate’s agent in early September, after it premiered at the Venice Film Festival.

According to the suit, the two images had been removed from the film, but the agent flagged eight others that also bore similarities to Mendieta’s work.

The estate is seeking damages and a restraining order to bar Amazon from using the infringing images. The suit was filed in federal court in Seattle.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company could not comment on pending litigation.

Suspiria Complaint by on Scribd

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