There was always going to be a strange tonal disconnect between sitting through the U.S. premiere of Asif Kapadia’s “Amy,” an intimate, at times painfully unflinching documentary about the turbulent life and alcohol-related death of Amy Winehouse, and then immediately attending an open-bar industry party nearby. But Thursday’s gala at the ArcLight Hollywood largely managed to strike the proper respectful tone.
Amidst a crowd that included Haim, Rick Rubin, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Diane Warren, David Foster, the Weeknd, Justin Kirk and Republic Records chief Monte Lipman, Universal Music Group chairman Lucian Grainge noted: “Amy meant so much to so many people, and she was really, truly one of the greatest artists of all time. This is a film that shows her humor, her vulnerability, and also her humanity. I think about Amy a lot, and I miss her so much.”
Producer James Gay-Rees described the process of assembling the film from so many sources “a seriously hardcore undertaking,” while director Kapadia explained the personal connection that inspired him to take on the project after helming the Formula One docu “Senna.”
“I’m a North Londoner, she’s a North Londoner, so she’s a local girl,” he said. “But something got muddied along the way,” as far as her perception in the media. “Whenever I talked to anyone making the film, they wanted people to see the real Amy.”
After the screening, a crowded yet appropriately low-key afterparty at the Roosevelt Hotel featured DJ sets from Blue Note Records president Don Was and neo-soul singer Mayer Hawthorne, both spinning plenty of Winehouse cuts alongside some of the classic girl group records — the Ronettes, the Angels — that inspired her breakout album, “Back to Black.”
A24 releases “Amy” on July 3 in New York and Los Angeles and expands nationwide July 10.
(Pictured: Haim, Lucian Grainge and David Joseph at the “Amy” afterparty)