Asif Kapadia discusses the grave consequences fame had on the singer's life
Amy film director Asif Kapadia has spoken to NME about the making of his new documentary which follows the life and death of late singer Amy Winehouse.
Winehouse passed away from accidental alcohol poisoning in July 2011 at the age of 27. The feature-length documentary about her life was released in UK cinemas on Friday (July 3) and broke a UK box office record in its opening weekend.
Speaking in this week’s issue of NME, available digitally and on newsstands now, the Bafta-winning director of Senna, said that he became increasingly “angry” whilst making the film and finding out more about Winehouse’s demise, elaborating that he “wanted the audience to be angry” too.
“This started off as a film about Amy, but it became a film about how our generation lives,” Kapadia added. “It was important to turn the mirror back on the audience – not just the people around Amy who were making decisions, but the people who wrote about it, the people who consumed it, the people who shared it on Twitter and Facebook. We all let this happen. We are all slightly complicit.”
“People watching the film tend to feel a bit guilty,” the filmmaker continued. “One reading of it is that we all got into this idea that we could bully this girl, or join in laughing at her, because she wouldn’t answer back and didn’t have anyone around her who seemed to care. We never stopped to think about what we were doing to her. This is a girl who had a mental illness, yet every comedian, every TV host, they all did it with such ease, without even thinking. We all got carried away with it.”
Referring to the decision to remove allegedly unfavourable footage regarding Winehouse’s father, Mitch, from the film after he threatened to withdraw his authorisation, Kapadia said, “If there are things that aren’t in there, it’s only because we couldn’t prove them.”
Mitch has previously criticised the documentary publicly, claiming that it tries to portray him “in the worst possible light”.
In interview with NME, Kapadia also defended his humanising portrayal of Winehouse’s former fiancé Blake Fielder-Civil, who is often accused of introducing the singer to drugs.
“Somewhere in there, there’s a suburban kid who has issues of his own, who came down to London, did whatever he had to do to survive, and somewhere along the line got hooked on drugs,” the director said.
Fielder-Civil recently denied responsibility for Winehouse’s death, telling The Times, “I don’t think I ruined her, no. I think we found each other and certain people need to realise that she did have other addictions before she met me. She wasn’t a happy, well-adjusted young woman… and I find it disrespectful to imply I was some machiavellian puppet master.”