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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 September 2007, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
US film pulled over McCann case
By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Screen grab of a scene from Gone Baby Gone
The film charts the investigation into a missing four-year-old girl
A US film about a four-year-old girl's disappearance has had its UK release shelved because of similarities to the Madeleine McCann case.

Gone Baby Gone, the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck, had been due to be released on 28 December.

Distributor Buena Vista International, however, has postponed it indefinitely.

Madeline O'Brien, who plays the missing girl in Gone Baby Gone, bears a close resemblance to Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in Portugal on 3 May.

We don't want to release the movie if it is going to touch a nerve or inflame anybody's sensitivities
Ben Affleck
Buena Vista and its subsidiary Miramax said they were "sensitive to the depth of feeling surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann".

"We have been closely following the case and have decided to delay the release of the film in the UK," a statement said.

The organisers of next month's London Film Festival have cancelled a gala screening of Gone Baby Gone on 26 October, which was to have been attended by Ben Affleck.

Sandra Hebron, the festival's artistic director, said she supported the distributor's decision to withdraw the film.

'Acutely aware'

Gone Baby Gone was based on a 1998 novel by Dennis Lehane and was filmed last year, before Madeleine's disappearance, the film companies said.

Ben Affleck (l) with brother Casey Affleck
Ben Affleck (left) directed the film, which stars his brother Casey
Speaking at the recent Deauville Film Festival in France, Affleck said he had been made "acutely aware of the situation" regarding Madeleine McCann.

"We have a greater concern for that than the release of our film, which is just a commercial matter, whereas this is a matter of life and death," he said.

"We don't want to release the movie if it is going to touch a nerve or inflame anybody's sensitivities."

The film follows two Boston private detectives who are called in to assist a police investigation into a missing child.

It stars Affleck's brother Casey and Oscar winner Morgan Freeman.

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