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Zoe Saldana/Nina Simone Bio-Pic Shopped To Distributors At Cannes Film Market As Director Files Lawsuit

Shadow and Act By Sergio | Shadow and Act May 15, 2014 at 12:42AM

That Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone project is finally about to seen for the first time. Though the director is not too thrilled about it
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Nina Simone/Zoe Saldana

So you remember that Nina Simone biopic that Zoe Saldana is starring in? The one that everyone was all up in arms about over her casting? Well, finally it’s going to see the light of day, this week, at the Cannes Film Market (Marche du Film), where it'll be screened for potential international distributors.

However, one person who almost certainly won’t be present, is the director of the film, Cynthia Mort, who is none-too-happy about developments regarding the production of the film, and she has now taken legal action.

In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter (HERE), Mort filed a lawsuit this week, against the British producer of the film, Ealing Studios Enterprises Limited, claiming that the company effectively cut Mort out of the decision making process during production, and, as a result, she is not at all happy with the version which is about to be screened for distributors.

According to the lawsuit, Mort had rights over the developing picture and "got approval over the final shooting script, the cast and crew, the line producer, the designer and all department head as well as consulting rights on advertising, distribution, shooting schedule and budget."

However, as the suit further states, "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."

And further, apparently the film was supposed to have already been released, which obviously hasn't happened.

Mort is seeking monetary damages (the amount isn't public yet), as well as "a declaration that the defendants can't make decisions without her meaningful approval and consultation."

Metro International Entertainment - a UK-based independent sales agent - is repping the film at Cannes this week, and according to a tweet the company shared on Twitter a week ago, they are certainly excited about it:

In development for at least 5 years, Mary J. Blige was initially attached to star in the film, but she was eventually replaced by Saldana who brought more international box office gravitas to the production. 

The one constant actor throughout the ordeal is & David Oyelowo, who plays Simone's Paris-based manager Clifton Henderson

The film's official synopsis reads:

A rare and poignant love story about a tormented genius who eventually finds love and peace. The story of the late jazz musician and classical pianist Nina Simone including her rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson.

Mike Epps plays Richard Pryor in the film.

Of course the controversy over the casting of Saldana as Simone created a firestorm still prevalent today, 2 years later. But, finally, at last, the film will be seen for the first time by an audience, and no doubt, many will be more than curious to hear what the verdict is.

Stay tuned...

This article is related to: Zoe Saldana


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