NSFW: Miley Cyrus and Lina Esco want you to ‘Free the Nipple’

Miley Cyrus stirred up yet another minor controversy when she tweeted a photo of herself flashing the camera the other day with the message, “THANK YOU NY for being one of the few states to @freethenipple” — a nod to the fact that it is legal for women to go topless in New York.

But what is “Free the Nipple”? It’s an upcoming movie by filmmaker and actress Lina Esco about censorship, feminism and the right to go topless. Esco is raising funds to release the film but has encountered various snags, including having the film’s Facebook page shut down. Esco spoke to Metro about her upcoming movie, Miley Cyrus and her journey to “Free the Nipple.”

What is the movie about?

It’s a feature film, not a documentary, and it follows a group of girls doing these topless protests in New York, and they get arrested. The leader of the group is played by Lola Kirke [sister of Jemima Kirke], and she’s running around topless in New York — she wants to bring attention to the double standard — and a character named With, played by me, a journalist named Liv. I see her on Wall Street and she gets arrested and I can’t believe it, so I start researching and I find out that it’s been legal to be topless in New York since 1992. … With approaches Liv to start a campaign and they become partners in crime. It’s about their journey to try to change laws and change the world and the obstacles and censorship laws they face. … It’s a narrative based on true events, and somehow the real-life campaign has gone viral.

How did you come up with the idea?

I had friends doing topless protests all the time, and I thought it would make a great story.

What was it like shooting the film?

We shot the movie from October of 2012 until mid-November, and it’s been really hard making the movie. I picked New York City because it’s legal to be topless here, but once we got started, they had all of these cops on site and a cop told me you have to wear a strip on your boobs and pasties to cover yourself. I said no, it’s legal to be topless here, and he said not when you’re shooting. I said this is unbelievable — I can’t show my nipple for a movie called “Free the Nipple”? In a state that is topless? Half the movie is censored and half of it is not; we stole the uncensored shots and just shot them running. We got into trouble a lot. I almost got arrested a few times but we kept on going, and that was the hardest thing to do.

People don’t want to license music to us just because the film has the word “nipple” in it. We’re facing an NC-17 rating, which is considered pornography and means most places won’t distribute the movie, but there isn’t one sexual act in it. It’s a movie about activism and the love and passion for changing the minds of the people. What is more obscene? Silence or a nipple?

How did you get Miley Cyrus talking about it?

Miley and I worked on a film three years ago called “LOL.” Miley knows about the cause and has been a big supporter and is being outspoken with it. It’s very aligned with her ideology. She really is an activist and revolutionary and what she’s doing right now supporting us. I can’t even begin to thank her because she’s put the word out everywhere for a movie that’s about empowering women.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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