×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toronto: Aretha Franklin Doc ‘Amazing Grace’ Holds Secret Screening for Buyers (EXCLUSIVE)

Producers of the Aretha Franklin documentary “Amazing Grace” held a secret screening on Saturday for buyers at the Toronto International Film Festival, Variety has learned, after pulling the film from the festival’s lineup at the last minute.

“Amazing Grace” was supposed to debut at both Telluride and Toronto, but a lawsuit filed by Franklin blocked its premiere. A federal judge in Denver ruled last week that the concert footage, shot by Sydney Pollack in 1972, couldn’t be shown without Franklin’s consent, forcing the filmmakers to yank it from Telluride, Toronto and the upcoming Chicago Film Festival.

According to sources, the private screening—which is currently in progress—is being attended by about 40 buyers in a theater away from festival venues. Those in attendance include Lionsgate, A24, The Weinstein Company, Bleecker Street, CBS Films, IFC Films as well as a smattering of foreign sales representatives.

It’s unclear if the controversy surrounding the film will help or hurt it from landing a deal, given that the litigation could cast a cloud over its release. On Sept. 4, U.S. District Judge John Kane granted Franklin’s request for a temporary restraining order, barring the producers from screening the film for 14 days. At the time, the producers decided to cancel the film’s Toronto debut as well.

“We are extremely disappointed that Toronto audiences will not be able to see this extraordinary piece of art,” the festival said in a statement after losing “Amazing Grace.” “The footage in the film is truly a cinematic treasure of 20th century music and we hope global audiences will have opportunity to experience this film once a resolution is found.”

The screening on Saturday is not associated with the film festival, but it shows that the producers are intent on getting “Amazing Grace” into theaters. A rep for Franklin didn’t immediately respond to comment.

More Film

  • Woody Allen Developing Next Film With

    Woody Allen Teams with Spain’s Mediapro for Next Film

    MADRID — Woody Allen is re-teaming with Spain’s Mediapro, one of Europe’s biggest independent film-TV companies, to develop his next film with an eye it seems to shooting in Spain. Mediapro co-financed and co-produced two of Allen’s highest-grossing movies, 2008’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which grossed $96.4 million worldwide, and 2011’s “Midnight in Paris” which earned [...]

  • 'Stitches' Review: Berlin Film Festival

    Berlin Film Review: 'Stitches'

    An elegant hybrid of true-story exposé and slow-moving arthouse thriller, Serbian director Miroslav Terzić’s sober sophomore feature “Stitches” takes a familiar idea — a lone crusader taking on a corrupt system in pursuit of the truth — but delivers an unusually thoughtful, psychologically compelling character study. Taking its cue from Snežana Bogdanović’s eerily composed but fathomless [...]

  • Aruna and Her Palate review

    Berlin Film Review: ‘Aruna & Her Palate’

    When mouthwatering Indonesian cuisine and romance are on the table, “Aruna & Her Palate” is a bouncy crowd-pleaser. Less tasty is the backdrop of a suspected bird flu outbreak that brings a food-loving epidemiologist into contact with her secret crush. Adapted from Laksmi Pamuntjak’s 2014 novel “The Bird Woman’s Palate,” “Aruna” manages to overcome its [...]

  • 'Duke' Review: Two Fake Cops Patrol

    Film Review: 'Duke'

    If you can envision “Let’s Be Cops” reconstituted as a noirish psychodrama, you may be adequately prepared for “Duke,” an uneven but arresting indie thriller about two siblings who are driven to heroic extremes by childhood traumas. Co-directed by twin brothers James and Anthony Gaudioso, who also appear in strikingly different supporting roles, the film [...]

  • Greek Director Probes Deeper Issues in

    Greek Director Probes Deeper Issues in Berlin Festival Film 'Sargasso Sea'

    After a sudden suicide turns a small eel-farming town upside down, an investigation unearths troubling secrets about the town’s past. Those discoveries will bring together two women trapped in solitary lives, offering each a chance to find salvation. “The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea” is the third feature by Greek director Syllas Tzoumerkas. Starring frequent [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    France's Cesar Awards Leads the Way for the Oscars

    Since 2011, France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma has steadfastly held its annual awards ceremony the Friday before the Academy Awards. And if launching the Césars two days before the Oscars holds a real, practical benefit — allowing those walking both red carpets time to linger over their last flutes of Champagne before [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content