×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Telluride: Door Remains Open for Embattled Aretha Franklin Documentary

After two years of attempting to program Sydney Pollack’s swan song, “Amazing Grace” — a documentary culled from concert footage featuring Aretha Franklin shot in 1972 — Telluride Film Festival organizers have pulled the plug … for now.

“I think that Aretha out-arm wrestled me too much,” Telluride executive director Julie Huntsinger said in an interview about this year’s lineup, which did not include the film.

In 2015, Franklin sued to prevent a planned public screening of the film at the fest. In a complaint against Telluride filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado, the music icon contended that the 1972 footage “was taken with the express understanding that it would not be used commercially without agreement and consent by Ms. Franklin.” Plans to exhibit the movie, Franklin’s complaint read, were in violation of that quitclaim agreement she had with the film’s producer, Alan Elliott.

Franklin went on to receive another injunction after Elliott screened the film privately to prospective buyers at the Toronto Film Festival a week later.

Last year, Telluride had every intention of finally premiering the film. It was again included on schedule materials for the festival. But it was pulled at the last minute, with the festival releasing a statement that read, in part:

“[Telluride] respects the decision of the court and the rights and wishes of all parties involved,” fest organizers said. “The festival will continue to reserve a space for the title in its program guide should the legal situation change and should the parties all agree that the film may be screened.”

No agreement was ever reached, though Huntsinger and TIFF co-founder Tom Luddy remain in contact with Elliott on the matter.

“[Franklin’s] resolve for that not being shown is so intense, and I don’t think any of us really understand it all the way,” Huntsinger said of Franklin’s convictions. “I think if there was a reason that people understood better, it would be easier to wage a battle and do it. But there is just this deep-seated desire for something to not happen right now, so I’d rather just respect her wishes. I do think it’s a shame, but it is her, and it’s her life. I’ve got to respect that.”

Huntsinger was hopeful that the tide can someday change, however.

“I think it’s safe to say you will see it at some point in Telluride,” she said. “When the conditions are right, it will be one of the first things we’ll be excited to put on the program.”

More Film

  • Beatriz Bodegas on Netflix Original: ‘Who

    ‘Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?’ Producer on New Spanish Netflix Original

    BARCELONA – “Who Would You Take to a Desert Island?” is the second directorial outing from Spain’s Jota Linares (“Animales sin collar”) a Netflix Original premiering on Friday, March 22 in competition at the Malaga Spanish Language Film Festival. Starring María Pedraza, Jaime Lorente, Pol Monen and Andrea Ros, the film is the movie adaptation [...]

  • Beijing Festival Unveils 'Max Max,' 'Bourne'

    Beijing Festival Unveils 'Max Max,' 'Bourne,' Kurosawa Screening Series

    The upcoming Beijing International Film Festival will give space to high profile Hollywood franchise movies with screenings of all films in both the “Mad Max” and “Bourne Identity” series. Classic Hollywood fare will also feature prominently in a line-up that, as usual, features an eclectic grab bag of titles. The local government-backed festival opens April [...]

  • J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church

    SXSW Film Review: 'J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius'

    Like 8mm films of 1960s “happenings” or videos of 1970s performance art, “J.R. ‘Bob’ Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius” chronicles a cultural footnote that perhaps should be filed under the heading You Had to Be There. The satirical-absurdist “religion” founded by some Texans actually caught fire among hipsters in the 1980s, influencing some [...]

  • 'Roll Red Roll' Review: Piercing Documentary

    Film Review: 'Roll Red Roll'

    “Roll Red Roll” is a piercingly relevant and disturbing documentary about an infamous high school rape case that took place in Steubenville, Ohio (pop. 18,600), on Aug. 11, 2012. Steubenville, the sort of Friday-night-lights small town that boasts signs that read “Kick off for Jesus,” is a place that’s good at keeping secrets. When the [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild, Hollywood Agents Negotiate With Deadline Looming

    The Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents have held a sixth negotiating session with a deadline for a new deal 16 days away — and it’s uncertain whether progress is being made. The Association of Talent Agents made counter-proposals at Thursday’s session that contain provisions for more accountability and transparency by agencies for clients [...]

  • Fox Layoffs

    Fox Layoffs Leave Staffers Stunned and Saddened

    Fox employees knew this day was coming. For over a year, the men and women who work at the Century City lot have talked of little else but severance packages and job searches. They knew that when Disney wrapped up its $71.3 billion acquisition of much of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets, thousands [...]

  • Alan Horn Disney

    Disney Clarifies Film Leadership After Harrowing Day of Fox Layoffs

    Following the dismissal of top executives in distribution, marketing and strategy on Thursday, new 20th Century Fox owner Disney has clarified its new top leadership. Five distinct Fox labels and a portion of their leadership have been welcomed into the Disney fold, the company said. This includes Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Family, Fox Searchlight Pictures, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content