Instagram Apologizes to Pedro Almodóvar for Venice Opener ‘Parallel Mothers’ Poster Censorship, Filmmaker Responds

Pedro Almodóvar at the Opening Night Premier of 'Annette' during the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, Frances on July 6, 2021.
Michael Buckner for PMC

UPDATED: Pedro Almodovar has responded to Instagram’s removal and subsequent reinstatement of the “Parallel Mothers” poster.

Communicating via his brother and producer Agustín Almodóvar’s Twitter, the filmmaker wrote: “Many thanks to all of you who have supported the ‘Parallel Mothers’ poster, to those of you who have posted it more than once, to those of you who have debated the need for a sanity at the sight of a female nipple, and to those of you who have talked about it in the media. You have gotten the minds behind the algorithm that decides what is obscene and offensive to backtrack and allow the poster to circulate freely. It is your victory, a great victory. You must be alert before the machines decide what we can do and what we cannot do. I have always relied on the kindness of strangers, but as long as they are human. An algorithm is not human. No matter how much information the algorithm has, it will never have a heart or common sense. Thank you all, again. Hopefully the movie lives up to your expectations.”

Instagram has issued an apology to Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar for removing a poster of his upcoming Venice opener ‘Parallel Mothers’ (Madres paralelas).

The poster in question depicting a lactating nipple, which was posted on Monday, was removed for violating Instagram’s rules against nudity.

“We do, however, make exceptions to allow nudity in certain circumstances, which includes when there’s clear artistic context. We’ve therefore restored posts sharing the Almodóvar movie poster to Instagram, and we’re really sorry for any confusion caused,” the company said in an emailed statement to the Associated Press.

The restoration of the images on Instagram came after the poster’s designer Javier Jaén posted that the poster had been removed from his Instagram page on Tuesday. “As expected, @instagram took down the poster that we made for the latest Almodóvar film #madresparalelas” Jaén. He reposted the image after which it was allowed to stay.

Variety has reached out to Almodóvar’s production company for comment.

Instagram’s community guidelines state: “We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature, but for a variety of reasons, we don’t allow nudity on Instagram. This includes photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks. It also includes some photos of female nipples, but photos in the context of breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health-related situations (for example, post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness or gender confirmation surgery) or an act of protest are allowed. Nudity in photos of paintings and sculptures is OK, too.”

There is a long running #FreetheNipple movement and hashtag on Instagram which artists and celebrities have deployed to try and make Instagram relax its guidelines. They include Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigen, who have posted nipple images which Instagram subsequently removed.

“Parallel Mothers,” starring Penélope Cruz, Rossy de Palma and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, opens the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 1.

Jamie Lang contributed to this story.