Aretha Franklin Won't Let You See Sydney Pollack's Documentary About Her

Aretha Franklin Won't Let You See Sydney Pollack's Documentary About Her

Soul icon wins injunction against film hours before screening.

Published September 6, 2015

Audiences at the Telluride Film Festival will be missing out on some soul this weekend. Aretha Franklin, the subject of a documentary that was meant to premiere at the festival, won a court-ordered injunction against the film because it was not up to her technical standards.

Franklin claims she has fought for years to kill the documentary Amazing Grace, about a 1972 concert of hers, that she claims was made without her consent. The film was shot by renowned filmmaker Sydney Pollack, who allegedly did not successfully sync the sound and picture while he recorded the footage, thereby rendering it a silent film. Pollack died in 2008.

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"For him to show that film, for him to completely and blatantly ignore me would be terrible," the 72-year-old said of the film's producer, Alan Elliot, whom she sued in 2011 to prevent a prior showing of the movie. "For him to do that would encourage other people to do the same thing and have no respect for me."

Attorneys for the film festival refute Franklin's claim that she would "suffer immediate and irreparable damage" by the screening. They also contended that a recently unearthed 1968 recording contract Franklin signed gave away rights to the footage of her concerts.

"There's a real, substantial likelihood that Ms. Franklin does not own the rights to the images in that picture," attorney Cecil Morris said. "It is not appropriate at the very last instant on a Friday afternoon before a 7:30 showing to seek this remedy."

For now, it looks like Franklin has won the battle, but the festival is looking to appeal the ruling and reverse the judgment before the last scheduled screening Sunday evening.

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BET Honors Rewind! How She Made It: Aretha Franklin, in the video below.

 (Photo: Earl Gibson III/WireImage)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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