Al Kuwaitiah  

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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Toronto festival pulls London Fields over legal dispute
“London Fields” was pulled from the Toronto International Film Festival Thursday, after the director sued the producers, saying they altered the movie and added offensive imagery about Islam and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Festival organizers said the decision was based on “uncertainty surrounding the creative vision” of the version they had. The debut had been set for Friday. Director Mathew Cullen filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles against Muse Productions Inc. and producers Christopher Hanley and Jordan Gertner. A statement released on behalf of the company expressed disappointment that the film had been pulled and faulted Cullen for missing deadlines to deliver the film to producers.
 
Along with the allegations about content, the lawsuit says producers failed to properly finance the film and haven’t properly paid Cullen for his work and expenses, which total more than $1 million. Cullen is asking a judge to rule the producers do not have the right to attach his name to the film without his consent.
 
“Sadly, Mathew can’t deal with the fact that he does not control the final cut of the movie,” said the statement released by publicist Maxine Leonard on behalf of the producers. “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.”
 
Cullen’s attorney, Alex Weingarten, responded to Muse Production’s statements in an email.
 
“It is unfortunate that the producers continue to attempt to distort the facts, but it is no longer unexpected,” Weingarten wrote. He said that Hanley and Gertner promised to provide the means to finish both a director’s cut and a producer’s cut for consideration, but failed then to produce those resources.
 
“They prevented him from finishing a director’s cut and are now attempting use the situation that they created as a defense,” Weingarten said. “This is no publicity stunt.”
 
Cullen is a commercial and music video director who has worked with Katy Perry, the Black Eyed Peas and Weezer, according to the lawsuit. Based on the Martin Amis novel of the same title, “London Fields,” which stars Amber Heard and Billy Bob Thornton, was intended to be Cullen’s directorial debut for a feature film.
 
“In its present form,” wrote the New York Times, whose critic had attended the media and industry screening for the film, “the narrative is intercut with images of a predatory drone, nuclear blasts, a person tumbling from a World Trade Center tower, and what appears to be a gathering in Mecca.”
 
The producers of the film said in a statement they were greatly disappointed that the festival decided to pull the film. “In creating their own version of the film,” the lawsuit states, “defendants have interjected scenes and footage that are highly offensive and neither appear in the script nor are a part of the film that Cullen was asked to direct.”
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