Aretha Franklin Has Documentary Premiere Halted
Executives at the Telluride Film Festival Friday night were forced to pull the planned premiere of Aretha Franklin’s concert documentary Amazing Grace after the soul legend obtained an emergency injunction to halt the event. The singer’s lawyers filed a last-minute motion in U.S. District Court in Colorado late Thursday objecting to the screening, which features footage shot by director Sydney Pollack at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles back in 1972, as Franklin recorded her live album Amazing Grace.
Pollack’s initial plans to release the film to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the classic album were scrapped as he struggled to sync the sound and video footage, and following his death in 2008, producer Alan Elliott set about restoring the documentary. It had been a big draw for audiences at the Telluride Film Festival, but the screening was halted at late notice on Friday as a judge sided with Franklin, who argued the footage had been “taken with the express understanding that it would not be used commercially without agreement and consent by Ms. Franklin.” The documents went on to state, “Allowing the film to be shown violates Ms. Franklin’s contractual rights, her intellectual property rights, her rights to use and control her name and likeness, and represents an invasion of her privacy.” Judge John Kane also banned documentary producers from screening the film for two weeks, when another hearing on the matter is due to take place. The ruling means Amazing Grace cannot be shown at the Toronto Film Festival in Canada next week as planned. Telluride bosses ended up filling Amazing Grace‘s Friday night slot with Jennifer Peedom’s Sherpa documentary about the Sherpa guides who accompany climbers up Mount Everest.