Director Cynthia Mort Files Suit Over Nina Simone Biopic After Creative Differences Found Her Booted From The Production.

Director Cynthia Mort has filed suit after creative differences found her booted from production for the forthcoming Nina Simone biopic Nina. The news comes as the film, starring Zoe Saldana, makes its debut at the Cannes Film Festival. This is the latest controversy from the highly-anticipated film, which has faced heavy criticism for the decision to cast Saldana as the lead despite her lack of physical resemblance to the musical icon. Mort has reportedly filed a motion in Los Angeles superior court alleging Ealing Studios Enterprises Limited – the production company behind the film – has breached the terms of her contract. Details of the lawsuit paint Mort as a tireless advocate for the production:

“She worked tirelessly to prepare the Film for a wide and successful commercial release,” says the lawsuit. “Yet, throughout the course of the Film’s production and post-production, Defendants consistently acted to frustrate Mort’s involvement in the Film, thereby breaching the Director Agreement. These breaches by the Defendants include, but are not limited to: taking complete control of editing the Film in June 2013 and failing to consult with Mort about subsequent cuts and changes; abandoning Mort’s previous cuts of the Film; failing to disclose the Film’s financials, finishing budget, and financing deals; and failing to keep Mort informed of other crucial creative and budgetary developments and decisions throughout production and post-production of the Film.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit filed by attorney Howard Weitzman alleges that “the film slated to be released March 31, 2014, doesn’t reflect Mort’s vision of Simone as a woman, musician and civil rights activist.” Though Mort has been ousted from the decision making process for the remainder of the production, she is still being credited as the director of the film. Along with that credit, Mort has reportedly received consulting rights related to advertising, distribution and final budgets for the film. Mort is seeking unspecified monetary damages along with action against ESEL that would force the company to consult with her and get her approval on decisions affecting the production.

Spotted at THR.


  • beastwork

    If the movie has already been filmed how can you”oust” the director?

    • blackmoses

      You prevent them from participating in the post-production process – editing, music scoring, sound design, sound mixing, color timing, etc. – and take the footage they shot and create an entirely different movie than they intended via editing.

      It happens more often than one would think on films (directors typically have to have clout to have final cut privileges on most film productions), but usually happens with the director being forced to do what the studio says versus being shut out entirely.

    • beastwork

      ah ok. I thought the film was already complete as its being shown at cannes. but I guess she was put of the project a long time ago, and is only just now filing the lawsuit.

    • blackmoses

      Pretty much. She apparently hasn’t had any control over the film at all since last June.

    • blackmoses

      Exactly. The film is complete, but she was shut out a long time ago. She had just gotten around to filing her suit.