Amazing Grace


Sequoia 1 Sat, Oct 17, 2015 5:00 PM
Rafael 1 Sun, Oct 18, 2015 8:15 PM
Film Info
Section:Valley of the Docs
Focus: The Beat Goes On(screen)
Running Time:87 min
Director:Sydney Pollack
Producer:Alan Elliott
Sydney Pollack
Jerry Wexler
Joe Boyd
Tirrell Whittley
Editor:Jeff Buchanan
Print Source:Al's Records and Tapes
Note Writer:Zoë Elton


The long-lost film of Aretha Franklin’s biggest-selling 1972 live album, Amazing Grace, is an extraordinary homage to a brilliant talent. For two nights, the Queen of Soul went to churchLos Angeles’ New Temple Missionary Churchto record what some cite as the greatest album ever. But the film of those electrifying performances, intended for release on a double bill with Superfly, was abandoned and remained unfinished until 2008: With instructions and the blessing of then-ailing director Sydney Pollack, Alan Elliott stepped up to finish the project. In Amazing Grace, Franklin’s breathtaking performance, supported by the Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern Baptist Community Choir, is like seeing a time capsule that captures the dynamism of that moment. To hear that extraordinary voice, to witness the grace and spirit of Aretha’s brilliant talent, upfront and personal, on screen, is a revelation. What once was lost, now is found and it’s beyond amazing.

Additional Information

Sydney Pollack (1934–2008) was an Academy Award-winning director, producer, actor, and writer who directed and produced over 40 films. He was born in 1934, in Lafayette, IN to a family of Russian-Jewish immigrants. From 1952–1954 Pollack studied acting with Sanford Meisner at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York, began his acting career on stage, and made his big-screen debut in War Hunt (1962). He began directing television in the early 1960s and had his biggest success as a film director with Out of Africa (1985), which won seven Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture. Pollack turned to comedy (as both director and actor) with Tootsie (1982), which was nominated for ten Academy Awards. Pollack also served as producer on many films including The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), The Quiet American (2002), and Cold Mountain (2003). Pollack returned to the director's chair in 2004 with The Interpreter (2005). In 2000, Pollack was honored with the John Huston Award from the Directors Guild of America as a “defender of artists' rights.” He died of cancer on May 26, 2008, at his home in Pacific Palisades, CA.