Despite Indiewire having reported that Sydney Pollack‘s Amazing Grace, a never-released 1972 doc about Aretha Franklin performing gospel tunes inside a Los Angeles church, will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, I’m told it’ll play the Telluride Film Festival first. And thank your lucky stars if you’re catching it at Telluride or Toronto because a money dispute may prevent Amazing Grace from being seen commercially. Franklin, 73, has just told the Detroit Free Press‘s Brian McCollum that she and her attorney may file an injunction to prevent the doc’s release. Presumed translation: Aretha wants a bigger paycheck.
Franklin’s gospel concert, performed inside L.A.’s New Temple Missionary Baptist Church (So. Broadway near 87th Place), happened 43 and 2/3 years ago. Pollack shot over 20 hours of 16mm footage and had hoped to put the film out in concert with Franklin’s Amazing Grace album. But a release never happened due to music rights issues or some other monetary hangup. In January 2010 Variety‘s Jon Burlingame reported that producer Alan Elliott and editor William Steinkamp had begun to assemble a final definitive cut.
Franklin’s performances over those two nights — Thursday, 1.13.72 and Friday, 1.14.72 — resulted in a double platinum album that was released about six months later. Amazing Grace is still Franklin’s biggest seller ever.
“It isn’t that I’m not happy about the film, because I love the film itself,” Franklin told McCollum two days ago. “It’s just that…well, legally I really should just not talk about it, because there are problems.” She added: “If those problems are not cleared up, you could very well see an injunction.”