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Aretha Franklin Sues to Stop ‘Amazing Grace’ Documentary Screening at Telluride Film Fest

Aretha Franklin is seeking to stop a planned Telluride Film Festival screening on Friday of “Amazing Grace,” the documentary culled from concert footage shot in 1972 by director Sydney Pollack.

However, the festival’s executive director, Julie Huntsinger, said at a press conference on Friday that the screening is “still on.”

In a complaint against Telluride filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado, Franklin contends that the 1972 footage “was taken with the express understanding that it would not be used commercially without agreement and consent by Ms. Franklin.”

“Allowing the film to be shown violates Ms. Franklin’s contractual rights, her intellectual property rights, her rights to use and control her name and likeness, and represents an invasion of her privacy,” her complaint states. “It is also in direct and specific violation of the quitclaim agreement by which the footage was obtained from the Warner Brothers organization by Mr. Alan Elliott, the purported producer of ‘Amazing Grace.'”

“They don’t call it ‘show friends,'” Huntsinger said of the ordeal at the press conference.

“[Franklin’s] lawyers are trying to stop us from showing the film,” Huntsinger said. “Let’s just hope the paperwork that is filed has us covered. But [Franklin] should be proud.”

The complaint notes that Franklin previously sued Elliott in 2011 over the footage, and the “lawsuit was resolved after Elliott agreed not to release the film.”

Franklin is seeking a court order to prevent Telluride from showing the movie on Friday evening and over the weekend.

News of her lawsuit was first reported by the Detroit Free-Press.

One of the producers of “Amazing Grace,” Joe Boyd, told the Detroit Free-Press on Thursday, “We are operating under the existing contract between Aretha Franklin and Warner Bros., which has governed the use of footage from this session in the past.”

Franklin is seeking an emergency restraining order and temporary injunction. She cites a violation of Colorado’s right of publicity and also makes a federal anti-bootlegging claim.

A hearing is scheduled for this afternoon in a federal court in Denver.

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