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Aretha Franklin Documentary ‘Amazing Grace’ Is Finally Heading to Theaters, With an Awards-Qualifying Run

Nearly a half-century after it was filmed, the famed concert performance could quickly become an Oscar season favorite.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin


It took nearly half a century, but one of Aretha Franklin’s definitive performances will finally be available for the world to see.

After being the subject of a contentious back-and-forth ever since the project was filmed 46 years ago, the concert film “Amazing Grace” is on the verge of hitting theaters. Variety is reporting that after Franklin’s passing earlier this year, the legendary soul singer’s estate has reached an agreement that would allow the film to be shown to the public for the first time.

In addition to a shocking late addition to the DOC NYC lineup next Monday, “Amazing Grace” will also receive qualifying runs in both Los Angeles and New York. With that limited theatrical release, the film would join an already-crowded field among this year’s contenders for Best Documentary at the 2019 Oscars.

The “Amazing Grace” saga began in 1972, when the late director Sydney Pollack filmed Franklin in concert over two consecutive evenings at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. After audio problems with the footage delayed the film’s release, producer Alan Elliott eventually picked up the reins and finished the film. In 2015, “Amazing Grace” was planned for a screening at the Telluride Film Festival before Franklin halted the premiere over a rights dispute. An injunction at the time also halted the film from playing at the Toronto International Film Festival and subsequent screenings were never finalized until now.

This news comes on the heels of reports of increased efforts to make Franklin the subject of the next season of the NatGeo biographical anthology drama “Genius,” with frequent collaborator Clive Davis lending his support to the project.

“Amazing Grace” is set to play at the Laemmle Monica Film Center and Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena from November 23-29, followed by a one-week run at Film Forum from December 7-14.

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