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Aretha Franklin documentary Amazing Grace to see the light after almost 50 years

Sydney Pollack’s posthumous documentary Amazing Grace, which details Aretha Franklin’s return to her gospel roots, will finally be available for public viewing almost 50 years after it was filmed.

Amazing Grace details the return of Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul, to her gospel roots.

The film, which was shot over two nights in January 1972, will premiere in New York City 46 years after attempts to release were thwarted by technical issues, and three years after lawyers at Franklin’s estate blocked its attempt at another premiere.

The sound recordings for the film could not exactly match Pollack’s footage and the reels, then were neglected and remained in storage for years. It wasn’t until 2007 that producer Alan Elliot bought the reels and had them digitally restored.

Franklin, who passed away in August this year, was reportedly a huge fan of the film. It was her lawyers who stepped in and removed the film from public screenings back in 2015 after arguing that only Pollack, who passed away in 2008, was originally granted to shoot concert footage on the understanding it would not be used for commercial gain without her consent.

Following Franklin’s death, a private screening of the film was staged for the late artist’s family and estate. Since the screening, legal clearance was granted for the film and it has been given consideration for next year’s Oscars ceremony.

Franklin’s niece and executor Sabrina Owens said of the documentary:

“[the film was] very moving and inspirational, an opportunity for those individuals who had not experienced her in a gospel context to see how diverse her music is”. 

Amazing Grace, the documentary’s namesake album, was released back in 1972 and became the highest-selling gospel album of all time, selling more than two million copies in the US alone.

Via The Guardian.

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November 13, 2018

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