Telluride Cancels Aretha Franklin Doc Screening of ‘Amazing Grace’ (Updated)

Film festival to screen the film “Sherpa” on Friday night instead following injunction filed by the singer

Last Updated: September 4, 2015 @ 5:04 PM

Update 3:51 p.m.: The Telluride Film Festival has canceled Friday night’s scheduled screening of the Aretha Franklin concert film “Amazing Grace” per a U.S. District court ruling in favor of an emergency injunction filed by the singer. The festival will run the film “Sherpa” in its place.

A Colorado judge has granted the injunction to block the screening of ‘Amazing Grace’ at Telluride Film Festival,” Shannon Mitchell, VP of Public Relations for the festival said in an official statement. “We will be showing ‘Sherpa’ in its place tonight at the Chuck Jones Theatre at 7:30.”

Three screenings of the film are slated for release at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival, starting Sept. 10, and Franklin’s lawyers told TheWrap that they’re weighing their options concerning how to proceed. Representatives from the Toronto Film Festival did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Previously: U.S. District Judge John L. Kane authorized the order during a hearing in Denver hours before the documentary was to be screened. The Associated Press reports that Franklin testified via telephone from Detroit that she has long objected to the public release of concert footage used in the film.

Earlier on Friday, the R&B singer had filed a lawsuit against the festival for emergency injunctive relief to stop scheduled screenings of the documentary, the first of which was slated for Friday at 7:30 p.m. local time. Festival organizers have not returned TheWrap’s request for comment.

According to the lawsuit, the documentary film — about the recording of Franklin’s live double album of the same name — consists mostly of footage from the singer’s 1972 concert performance at the New Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California, shot by director Sydney Pollack. However, Franklin claims she never granted permission to use the footage in “any commercial context, and has not authorized the public release of the footage.”

The film’s producer, former record producer and current UCLA lecturer Alan Elliott, told the Los Angeles Times last month that Pollack “wanted me to finish the film after he died.” Elliott pursued rights to the footage, which were granted by Warner Bros. Music via quitclaim deed in 2008, conditional on Franklin’s express permission.

Franklin states that she learned “Amazing Grace” would be screened in its full length at the film festival. The lawsuit claims that “allowing the film to be shown violates Ms. Franklin’s contractual rights, her intellectual property rights, her rights to use and control her name and likeness, and represents an invasion of her privacy.” It also violated the federal anti-bootlegging statute.