Aretha Franklin documentary to finally premiere after 46-year wait

The film was originally shot by Sydney Pollack in 1972, but complications led to it being untouched for decades

A long-awaited Aretha Franklin documentary is finally set to premiere 46 years after it was filmed.

The late soul legend, who passed away back in August at the age of 76, was captured on film by the acclaimed director Sydney Pollack back in 1972 for a project titled Amazing Grace.

Filmed over two nights at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles – where Franklin recorded her ‘Amazing Grace’ live album – Pollack made the error of not using clapper boards during the filming, ensuring that the 20 hours of raw footage he shot was incredibly hard to edit.


The project therefore lay unedited for decades as various complications – including protracted legal battles – prevented it from being completed. The film itself was only finished in 2011, with producer Alan Elliot (who acquired the rights to the film in 2007) assembling a production team who used digital technology to edit the footage.

Aretha Franklin eulogy
Aretha Franklin

Amazing Grace will finally premiere at the DOC NYC festival next week (November 12), with the release receiving the blessing of the late singer’s estate and providing it with the necessary legal clearance. A wider cinematic release is expected in January – possibly to coincide with the birthday of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr (January 15).

Amazing Grace is the heart and soul of Aretha Franklin,” Franklin’s niece and her estate’s executor Sabrina Owens said yesterday (November 5). “Her fans need to see this film, which is so pure and joyous.”

“Aretha’s fans will be enthralled by every moment of the film as her genius, her devotion to God and her spirit are present in every frame,” producer Elliot added in a statement.


Last month, an exhibition celebrating Aretha Franklin‘s legacy opened in her home town of Detroit.

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