Lost Aretha Franklin Concert Film Will Finally Be Released
The best-selling album of Aretha Franklin’s career — and the best selling gospel album ever— is her 1972 record Amazing Grace. It was recorded live at Los Angeles’ New Temple Missionary Baptist Church, and the whole thing was also shot by film cameras for a potential documentary. The footage, originally directed by Sydney Pollack, were never released, and wound up sitting in a vault for decades. It almost came out in 2015, when Amazing Grace the movie nearly made its premiere at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. Days before its debut, Franklin put a stop to the screenings; in court, her lawyers claimed she had never agreed to allow the footage to see the light of day.
Negotiations followed between the parties followed, but were never completed before Franklin’s death earlier this year at the age of 76. Now, Franklin’s heirs and the rights holders of the film have come to an agreement, and Amazing Grace is finally coming to theaters. Making up for lost time, the movie will debut really soon — next Monday at New York’s DOC NYC Festival, with Oscar-qualifying runs to follow in December in both Los Angeles and New York City.
Via Variety, Amazing Grace producer Alan Elliott, revealed that the final film is really all about Aretha’s music.
‘Aretha says six words in the movie,’ Elliott points out. ‘She says, ‘What key is it, E?’ and then she says, ‘Water.’ So, obviously getting the music right is the thing we can do best by her legacy, I think.’
Here’s a trailer from the film’s aborted 2015 festival run:
It’s a pretty remarkable and exciting turn of events. As of this writing, tickets are still available for the film’s New York premiere, so get them while you can.