Instagram Apologizes for Banning Almodóvar’s ‘Parallel Mothers’ Poster, Featuring Lactating Nipple

Instagram's parent company Facebook is overriding its nudity ban for Pedro Almodóvar.
"Parallel Mothers"
"Parallel Mothers"
AP Images / Mubi

Update, August 12: Pedro Almodóvar has issued the following statement: “Thank you very much to all of you who have supported the Parallel Mothers poster, to those who have posted it more than once, to those who have debated about the need for a bit of sanity in view of the vision of a female nipple, to those of you who have talked about it in the media. You have gotten the minds behind the algorithm that decides what is or is not obscene and offensive to backtrack and allow the poster to circulate freely. It is your victory, a great victory. We must be alert before the machines decide what we can do and what we cannot do. I have always relied on the kindness of strangers, but as long as they are human and an algorithm is not human, no matter how much information the algorithm has, it will never have a heart or common sense. Thank you all, again. Hopefully the movie lives up to your expectations.

Earlier, August 11: Instagram has issued an apology for temporarily banning the new poster for Pedro Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers.” The poster was released earlier this week and features the provocative image of a woman’s lactating nipple. The poster was removed from Facebook because of the nudity on display. The poster’s Spanish designer Javier Jaén issued a complaint over censorship. According to The Associated Press, Instagram parent company Facebook then backtracked on its decision and returned the poster to the social media platform.

As reported by the AP: “Instagram’s parent company Facebook told The Associated Press on Wednesday that several images of the poster for ‘Madres Paralelas,’ which shows a lactating nipple, were removed ‘for breaking our rules against nudity’ after they were uploaded on Monday.”

“We do, however, make exceptions to allow nudity in certain circumstances, which includes when there’s clear artistic context,” the company added in a statement. “We’ve therefore restored posts sharing the Almodóvar movie poster to Instagram, and we’re really sorry for any confusion caused.”

Poster designer Javier Jaén told AP that Almodóvar championed the image for the one-sheet despite fear the nudity could cause problems on social media. “He told me that he had made films with posters his whole life, long before Instagram, and he would keep doing so after Instagram, too,” the designer said.

“This is probably the first image I saw when I was born,” Jaén said. “A company like Instagram tells me my work is dangerous, that people shouldn’t see it, that it’s pornographic. How many people are they telling that their body is bad, that their body is dangerous? They say their technology can’t differentiate the context. I don’t care. Change your technology then.”

IndieWire has reached out to Almodóvar’s team for further comment.

“Parallel Mothers” is set to open the Venice Film Festival on September 1, before heading to other major fall events such as the New York Film Festival. The movie stars frequent Almodóvar collaborators Penelope Cruz and Rossy De Palma opposite Milena Smit, Israel Elejalde, and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón.

Here’s the synopsis for the film courtesy of Venice:

“Two women, Janis and Ana, coincide in a hospital room where they are going to give birth. Both are single and got pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, doesn’t regret it and she is exultant. The other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared, repentant, and traumatized. Janis tries to encourage her while they move like sleepwalkers along the hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a very close link between the two, which chance will undertake to develop and complicate in such a decisive way that it will change the lives of both.”

Sony Pictures Classics will release the film stateside on December 24.

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