Monday, March 1, 2021

Aretha Franklin Sues to Block ‘Amazing Grace’ Screening at Telluride

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*The Telluride Film Festival says it will screen the documentary “Amazing Grace” tonight (Sept. 4), despite a last minute lawsuit from Aretha Franklin aiming to stop it, reports TheWrap.

According to the lawsuit, the film consists mostly of footage from Franklin’s 1972 concert at the New Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California. However, the singer claims she never gave permission for the footage to be used in “any commercial context, and has not authorized the public release of the footage.”

According to Franklin, she learned that “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.

aretha franklin amazing grace

The concert was allegedly filmed with Franklin’s permission, under the agreement that it would “not be publicly or commercially released without the consent of Ms. Franklin.” According to the document, more than 80 percent of the documentary is footage from Franklin’s performance and images of the singer. Moreover, an album was produced from the concert, titled “Amazing Grace,” which went double-platinum and became the best-selling album of her career, and Franklin holds a copyright to this album.

In 2011, Franklin had sued the film’s producer, Alan Elliot, but it settled when Elliot promised that he wouldn’t release the film. Him releasing the film through the Telluride Film Festival violates “her contractual, federal statutory and common law rights.”

The lawsuit also points towards a quitclaim deed that warns that any commercial use of the footage would require Franklin’s permission and the assignee would have to “pay all re-use fees and other compensation required by applicable collective bargaining or individual contracts or otherwise required by the law.”

The Queen of Soul called for an emergency order to stop Telluride from showing the film, which is scheduled for Sept. 4, 5 and 6. The festival, however, is “still planning on screening” the documentary, a spokesperson told TheWrap on Friday.




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