In August, the news broke that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Fraklin, died at the age of 76. Though reports began to surface that Franklin was “gravely ill” earlier in the week of her death, the soul singer’s loss still left the music community in shock. A new documentary concert film, Amazing Grace, is set for release next week. The film is directed by Sydney Pollack, at Los Angeles’ New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in 1972. The long-overdue footage is set to premiere Monday, November 12th at the Doc NYC Film Festival in New York City, a festival dedicated to nonfiction cinema.
According to a report by the New York Times, the 87-minute film will then be screened for one-week runs in Los Angeles in November and in New York in December. One of the film’s producers, Alan Elliott mentioned to the Times that Amazing Grace would most likely arrive in wide release in January, perhaps coinciding with Martin Luther King’s Birthday. Amazing Grace, Aretha Franklin’s double LP, was released in 1972 and went on to become the soul icon’s best-selling album of her career.
Problems arose surrounding the film’s ultimate release since originally being filmed 46 years ago, and the New York Times reports,
The film recording was mishandled. Mr. Pollack, who died in 2008, failed to use clapper boards, a crucial tool in matching sound with filmed images in a predigital era. And he had 20 hours of raw footage shot by five 16-millimeter cameras to sync.
Frustrated film editors at Warner Bros., which financed the shoot, ultimately gave up, having missed the 1972 release of the “Amazing Grace” album. Mr. Pollack turned to a new directing project, “The Way We Were,” starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. And the “Amazing Grace” negatives began to gather dust in the Warner vaults.
Mr. Elliott, who had been obsessed with the lost footage since working as a music executive in the mid-1980s, ultimately persuaded Warner to sell him the reels in 2007. (He mortgaged his house.) By 2010, digital technology had evolved to a point that syncing film and sound was finally possible.