The Aretha Franklin documentary from Sydney Pollack (The Interpreter), Amazing Grace, has been pulled from the upcoming Chicago International Film Festival. Franklin recently had the film pulled from the Telluride Film Festival this past Friday.
The cause for the injunction filed by Franklin alleges the documentary improperly uses footage shot by Pollack at a 1972 performance. Franklin claims that Pollack was granted permission to shoot the performance in 1972 but they agreed that Franklin would need to give her consent if the footage was ever distributed. A Colorado judge ordered the film be pulled last week.
It’s unclear if this technicality was Franklin’s only issue with the film or if there are other aspects with which she takes issue. Franklin issued a statement responding to the film being pulled from the Telluride Film Festival saying that “Justice, respect and what is right prevailed and one’s right to own their own self-image.” The statement makes it seem like the issue is one of principle.
The ruling was meant to remove the film from Telluride, but has now spread to others, making it likely that the film’s release will be put on hold until an agreement is reached by both parties. On paper, the movie looks like a prime example of a doc that would make some waves come awards season. Although Chicago Film Festival artistic director Michael Kutza said in a statement that “Pollock was a longtime personal friend and supporter of our festival,” they felt they had to pull the film “out of respect for the legal process ahead and Ms. Franklin’s wishes.”
UPDATE: Amazing Grace has also been officially pulled from the Toronto Film Festival line-up. A festival spokesman said the following:
We are extremely disappointed that Toronto audiences will not be able to see this extraordinary piece of art. 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.
We’ll have more on the film as it develops.