TORONTO (Reuters) - The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has pulled the Friday night premiere of “London Fields” after director Matthew Cullen filed a lawsuit claiming the noir film’s producers had added “incendiary imagery” without his approval.
The film, based on a Martin Amis novel of same name, stars Billy Bob Thornton and was due to be shown on Friday night and then Saturday and Sunday afternoons. All have been canceled.
“With uncertainty surrounding the creative vision of the version of the film scheduled to be screened on September 18th, we feel it is only appropriate that we remove this film” from the festival’s lineup, TIFF said in a statement.
Cullen filed the lawsuit late on Tuesday claiming that producer Chris Hanley and associates had “secretly prepared their own version of the film” to lace it with violent imagery, according to the New York Times.
The lawsuit said the added material included “incendiary imagery evoking 9/11 jumpers edited against pornography,” the Times said.
“In its present form, 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 Times said after an earlier screening for media and industry.
The producers of the film said in a statement they were greatly disappointed that the festival decided to pull the film.
“We have always loved launching our films here, but feel that in this particular case there has been an ill-considered decision made against our rights,” the statement said.
The statement said Cullen did not control the final cut of the movie and that the production company would vigorously oppose the lawsuit.
The Toronto festival earlier had to cancel screenings of the Aretha Franklin documentary “Amazing Grace” after the singer filed an injunction against its producers.
Reporting by Alastair Sharp; With additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Chris Reese and Paul Tait