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Nina Simone Biopic Director, Cynthia Mort, Files Lawsuit Against Film's Production Company

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(FILE PHOTO) In this composite image a comparison has been made between Nina Simone (L) and actress Zoe Saldana. Zoe Saldana will reportedly play Nina Simone in a film biopic by writer and director Cynthia Mort and executive producer Jimmy Lovine. ***LEFT IMAGE*** UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Photo of Nina SIMONE; (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns) ***RIGHT IMAGE*** BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Actress Zoe Saldana arrives at the 'Machine Gun Preacher' Los Angeles premiere at Academy of | David Redfern via Getty Images

The highly-anticipated Nina Simone biopic, “Nina,” is set to make its debut during a screening at this year’s annual Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, but a new lawsuit filed by the film’s director, Cynthia Mort, is the latest source of controversy for the film.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mort filed a motion in Los Angeles Superior Court against the film’s production company, Ealing Studios Enterprises Limited, alleging a breach of the terms outlined in her contract as director, which reportedly affected the filmmaker’s decision-making on the project.

"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."

The film chronicling the life of the late jazz icon was also engulfed in controversy surrounding the casting of Zoe Saldana, which led to a petition requesting the replacement of the Afro-Latina actress with "an actress who actually looks like Nina Simone."

The “Avatar” star responded to the widespread backlash during a 2013 pre-Oscar event, where she shared her thoughts on the negative comments.

“The reality is what keeps me focused and what kept me from I guess getting stressed or being hurt by the comments is that I’m doing it for my sisters,” she said. “I’m doing it for my brothers. I don’t care who tells me that I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am and I know what Nina Simone means to me. So that is my truth and that set me free.”

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