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‘Amazing Grace’: Telluride Film Festival Pulls Embattled Sydney Pollack Documentary (Again)

The controversial documentary is again pulled from the same festival that tried to premiere it last year.

“Amazing Grace”


It’s deja vu all over again.

The Telluride Film Festival programmed Sydney Pollack’s 1972 Aretha Franklin performance documentary, “Amazing Grace,” only to pull it from the fest’s official lineup. This time, mere hours before the annual Telluride Film Festival kicked off in Colorado, the fest removed it from the Labor Day weekend program.

Last year, the passion project — completed by producer Alan Elliott after Pollack’s death in 2008 — made it all the way to the official lineup and was yanked at the last minute at the behest of Aretha Franklin, kicking off a still-simmering legal battle in the process. This time around, Pollack’s film was never officially announced as part of the lineup.

Early looks at the festival’s program did include the film, listed as part of the Repertory program, but an early morning email from Telluride brass revealed that it was no longer a part of the slate and should not be included when the full list of the secretive festival’s annual schedule was released Thursday.

READ MORE: Telluride Film Festival Announces Full 2016 Lineup: ‘Arrival,’ ‘Moonlight’ and More

The festival stated:

“At this time, Telluride Film Festival will not be screening ‘Amazing Grace’ in its 2016 program. The Festival respects the decision of the court and the rights and wishes of all parties involved. 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.”

Pollack’s film was pulled from Telluride last year, and was soon scrapped from screening at the Toronto International Film Festival as well, which launches just days after Telluride.

READ MORE: Aretha Franklin Blocks Screening of ‘Amazing Grace’ at Telluride

As our Anne Thompson wrote last year, “the problem is that Franklin, according to the film’s producers, is not willing just to accept money for marketing and promoting the movie when it goes into release, but wants to fight for the rights to the film. She has already hired and fired one lawyer, but her new attorney N. Reid Neureiter did request an injunction to stop the Telluride showing, which was the world premiere.”

The Telluride Film Festival takes place September 2 – 5 in Telluride, Colorado.

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