Filmmaker Sydney Pollack’s long-awaited documentary Amazing Grace featuring recordings from the sessions of Aretha Franklin’s live 1972 album of the same name is set to be premiered at the 2018 DOC NYC film festival.
“The album sold over two million copies and became the jewel in the crown of the queen,” read subtitles in the highly anticipated trailer for the documentary. “The album became the best-selling gospel record of all-time. The film has never been seen until now.”
Opening with a shot of New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, Sydney Pollack captures the energetic and enthralling performances from Aretha Franklin live with the church’s gospel choir, complete with attendees to the live recording session dancing, singing and praising in the aisles. The essence of Aretha Franklin is palpable, and the excitement and admiration that still surrounds her to this day hits the viewer and ignites something deep within.
Fully supported by Aretha Franklin’s family, a rare case for a documentary on a celebrity life, the film was intended to accompany the release of the Amazing Grace double-LP, but until now has not seen the light of day due to technical and legal issues.
A producer, Alan Elliot acquired the rights to the film in 2007 and has been working on the project since. “I am thrilled to work with the family to do right by Aretha’s legacy,” Elliott says in a statement. “Being able to share this film and the musical genius of Aretha Franklin with her family and the world is an honour. 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."
The 2018 DOC NYC film festival, where Amazing Grace will have its world premier, takes place from 8 – 15 November.