Aretha Franklin Gospel Film to be Released, 46 Years After It Was Made

Billboard is reporting that Aretha Franklin’s concert film “Amazing Grace” will finally be released, 46 years after it was made.

According to the network, the documentary film had been trailed by a tortuous long-running saga, and Monday her estate and film producers said that “Amazing Grace” will premiere November 12 at the DOC NYC film festival with the full support of Franklin’s estate.

The film was mostly shot by Sydney Pollack and it follows the late singer’s performance at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood in January 1972.

The music from the two performances was previously released as a landmark double live album in 1972. Pollack’s footage was impossible to edit because the filmmaker failed to sync the sound. And after acquiring the film’s rights from Pollack in 2007, producer Alan Elliott brought in a team to construct the film, which Elliott calls “a labor of love.”

“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.

Billboard adds that the late singer had sued Elliott in 2011 for planning to release the film without her permission. “Amazing Grace”, and in 2015 when it was almost released, it was yanked at the last minute from the Telluride and Toronto film festivals after Franklin’s attorneys obtained an injunction against its release. They argued the film was “the functional equivalent of replaying an entire Aretha Franklin concert,” and couldn’t be screened without her consent.

The parties battled it out in courts in 2016; Pollack had passed away in 2008. And now, almost two months after Franklin died, her estate says “Amazing Grace” was an important part of Franklin’s legacy.

″‘Amazing Grace’ is the heart and soul of Aretha Franklin,” Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece, said Monday. “This film is authentic and is my aunt at her core. She was a daughter of the church, she loved gospel music, and she always incorporated some form of sacred music in her concerts.”

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