A concert movie Aretha Franklin spent years keeping off the big screen is to be released three months after her death.
Director Sydney Pollack’s Amazing Grace will premiere at the DOC NYC film festival in New York on 12 November (18), with the full support of the late soul legend’s estate.
Pollack’s movie was shot at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in January, 1972, and while the music from the show was released as part of a double live album, the concert footage proved to be virtually useless at the time, because the filmmaker failed to sync the sound to the visuals.
Producer Alan Elliott picked up the movie rights in 2007 and meticulously matched the sound to the footage with a team of experts, only to discover Aretha didn’t want it to be released.
Franklin sued Elliott in 2011 for planning to roll out the film without her permission, and it was pulled from the Telluride and Toronto film festivals in 2015 after the singer’s attorneys obtained an injunction against its release. The film was also yanked from the Telluride line up in Colorado the following year.
Franklin passed away in August (18), and now the late singer’s niece Sabrina Owens insists her aunt would have approved of the film and the work Elliott has done.
“Amazing Grace is the heart and soul of Aretha Franklin,” she tells Billboard. “This film is authentic and is my aunt at her core. She was a daughter of the church, she loved gospel music, and she always incorporated some form of sacred music in her concerts.”
The film will be released to theatres later this year to qualify for Oscars consideration.