- 06 Nov 18
Alas, the Queen of soul’s long-awaited gospel concert film, Amazing Grace, will be released more than 46 years after being shot.
Footage was recorded in January 1972 by director, Sydney Pollack. It captures the legendary singer at the peak of her career performing two nights at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles’ Watts neighbourhood.
Bringing the film to life has had its challenges. Pollack didn’t use clapper boards during recording, meaning it was extremely difficult to match the sound with the raw footage. Thus, Warner Bros who funded the project, had it shelved.
After remaining in unedited form for decades, producer Alan Elliott, acquired its rights and assembled a team to construct the film.
“Aretha’s fans will be enthralled by every moment of the film as her genius, her devotion to God and her spirit are present in every frame,” Elliot said in a statement.
Franklin was reportedly a fan of the footage even though her lawyers had previously blocked its release. Legal approval only came after the singer passed away and the film was shown to her family which gave its full support and giving the green light for its premiere November 12 at DOC NYC Film festival.
The late singer’s estate said Amazing Grace is a significant part of Franklin’s legacy:
“In recent weeks, Alan presented the film to the family at the African American Museum here, and we absolutely love it,” said Sabrina Owen’s, the singer’s niece to Variety, adding: “We can see Alan’s passion for the movie, and we are just as passionate about it. It’s in a very pure environment, very moving and inspirational, and it’s an opportunity for those individuals who had not experienced her in a gospel context to see how diverse her music is. We are so excited to be a part of this.”
Over her career, Franklin won 18 Grammys, she died of cancer in August, aged 76. After gathering dust, it is now an Oscar qualifying release. A larger rollout is expected in theatres next year.
Aretha Franklin performing 'Amazing Grace' on The Oprah Winfrey Show: