ICYMI: After 46 Years, Aretha Franklin Doc to See Light of Day

By Sameer Rao Nov 07, 2018

Forty-six years of studio abandonment and legal quagmire kept "Amazing Grace" off the movie screen. But now, the documentary that captures the late Aretha Franklin‘s 1972 sessions from her eponymous bestselling double album, will finally exit obscurity at DOC NYC on November 12. 

Variety and the Detroit Free Press reported Monday (November 5) that Franklin’s estate and producer Alan Elliott reached an agreement to debut the film at the documentary festival.

“In recent weeks, Alan presented the film to the family at the African American Museum here, and we absolutely love it,” Franklin’s niece and estate executor Sabrina Owens told Variety. “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.”

The Free Press notes that Warner Bros. originally tapped director Sydney Pollock ("Tootsie") to film two days of Franklin’s 1972 album sessions at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. The studio abandoned the project over difficulties synchronizing Pollock’s analogue footage. Elliott acquired the project a decade ago and faced legal challenges from Franklin, including a 2015 injunction to stop a planned premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, over use of her likeness.

The film is scheduled for a limited run in Los Angeles and New York City at the end of the year—just in time for Academy Awards consideration. The estate and Elliott are also planning a special screening in Detroit next year, according to Variety. 

Watch the new trailer for "Amazing Grace" below.