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Aretha Franklin 'Amazing Grace' documentary response: Singer says 'what is right prevailed'

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Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

After successfully blocking the Telluride Film Festival from screening the documentary Amazing Grace, Aretha Franklin is expressing her relief over the outcome.

In a statement issued Saturday to the Associated Press, Franklin said, “Justice, respect and what is right prevailed and one’s right to own their own self-image.”

Amazing Grace, about the singer’s album of the same name and heavily comprised of footage from a 1972 concert, was originally slated to be screened at Telluride on Friday night. However, Franklin, who says she rejected the use of this concert footage for years, filed an emergency injunction with the hopes of preventing its showing. On Friday, after Franklin filed her suit, U.S. District Judge John L. Kane issued the injunction, thereby canceling the screening.

Judge Kane’s order cited Franklin’s original agreement with Warner Bros., which required her consent for commercial use of the footage. It also reads, “a film that essentially recreates the entire concert experience is not fair use of the footage.”

The concert in question is of Franklin’s historic performance in a Los Angeles church. Sydney Pollack, who shot the footage, planned to have it shown in a Warner Bros. film but the project was shelved, though the studio kept the footage in its vault. Producers Alan Elliott, Stefan Nowicki, and Joey Carey picked it up with the intent of using it for Amazing Grace.

The screening at Telluride was replaced with another documentary called Sherpa, though Amazing Grace is scheduled to screen next week at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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