Aretha Franklin Documentary 'Amazing Grace' to Screen at AFI Fest

Amazing Grace Stills 2: Aretha Franklin Documentary - H 2015
Courtesy of Liquid Soul

The documentary about the late singer's legendary performance at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in 1972 will have its West Coast premiere on Thursday.

Amazing Grace, the concert film about Aretha Franklin’s 1972 performance at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, has been added to the schedule at AFI Fest, where it will have its West Coast premiere as a special screening on Thursday at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres.

Long tied up in legal wrangling, the film, created from footage shot by the late Sydney Pollack, was originally scheduled to debut at the 2015 Telluride Film Festival. But after a U.S. district judge issued an emergency injunction at Franklin’s request, the film was dropped from that year’s Telluride and Toronto International Film Festival lineups.

In the wake of Franklin’s death on Aug. 16, producer Alan Elliott, who acquired rights to the film in 2007, struck a deal with the Aretha Franklin Estate to release the pic. It had its world premiere at DOC NYC on Monday and will begin an Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles on Nov. 20.

Elliott worked with a team of producers including Joe Boyd, Robert Johnson, Chiemi Karasawa, Sabrina Owens, Jerry Wexler, Tirrell D. Whittley and Joseph Woolf to complete Amazing Grace, which was originally intended as a companion piece to Franklin’s double live album of the same name. The film was edited by Jeff Buchanan, and its music was mixed by Jimmy Douglass. 

Amazing Grace features Franklin singing her gospel hits in front of an audience that included her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin and gospel singers Clara Ward and Mother Ward of the Ward Family Singers, as well as The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts.