Still from Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, 2018. Photo: Alessio Bolzoni/Amazon Studios.
October 01, 2018 at 9:08am
The estate of Ana Mendieta has accused Amazon Studios of copyright infringement in a lawsuit filed in Seattle federal court on Friday, September 28. The legal dispute is over Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming movie, Suspiria—a remake of a 1977 horror film by Dario Argento that draws heavily from the Cuban American artist’s work.
The complaint specifically references the film’s first trailer—released in June—which depicts scenes that the estate claims are from two of the artist’s works: the photograph Rape Scene, 1973, and the performance Untitled: Silueta Series, Mexico, 1978. The estate sent the streaming giant a cease and desist letter in July and is demanding that Amazon pay damages for using Mendieta’s work without consent. Amazon has since removed the scenes from its subsequent trailers.
While Amazon has not responded to requests for comment, earlier this year Guadagnino, who previously directed the award-winning film Call Me by Your Name, 2017, said in an interview with Yahoo that the original film was “soaked in the ideas of feminist art.” He added that the work of feminist artists such as Gina Pane, Francesca Woodman, Judy Chicago, and Mendieta have helped shape his creative outlook.
“In general, image permissions [for Mendieta’s work] are only granted for art historical contexts such as academic journal articles and informational articles directly related to the artist’s work and practice,” Galerie Lelong & Co., which represents the estate, said in a statement that was provided to Artnews. “Permissions are not granted for commercial reproductions. Barbara Hoffman, the estate’s legal counsel, stated that it is unfortunate that the director, Luca Guadagnino, purports to pay homage to women artists of the ’70s, yet Amazon has forced the estate to bring a lawsuit to redress the damage suffered from the continuing usages of Mendieta’s iconic images in connection with Suspiria.”
Suspiria premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September and received mixed reviews from critics. Following the screening, Amazon apparently showed the film to a representative from the Mendieta estate, who flagged several additional images that were too similar to Mendieta’s works. Since the artist died from injuries related to a fall from her New York apartment in 1985, her sister, Raquelin Mendieta, and her niece, Raquel Cecelia Mendieta, have managed her estate. The artist’s husband, the artist Carl Andre, was tried for her murder and acquitted.
The movie has a US release date of October 26. It will be played in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles and is expected to have a wider release date of November 2.