Through Thursday, December 13
ABSOLUTELY ONE WEEK ONLY
12:20 2:10 4:15 6:10 8:00 10:00
Realized and Produced by Alan Elliott
PLEASE NOTE: All screenings of AMAZING GRACE are sold out online. Some tickets may be available on day of show. A standby line will form an hour before each showtime.
“One of the most famous films never released” and “one of Hollywood’s holy grails” (The New York Times) is now getting a release.
Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) may have been best known as the “queen of soul,” but she started her stunning career singing gospel music as a teenager on tour and at home in Detroit, where her father was a star pastor. Her 1972 album, Amazing Grace – an extraordinary concert of Franklin at the peak of her powers – was her most successful record, and the best-selling live gospel album of all time. It was recorded at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles – home to the gospel legend Reverend James Cleveland – by a team supervised by producer Jerry Wexler and in front of an audience filled with admirers, including Mick Jagger.
What is truly amazing is that this concert – a thrilling performance by Franklin in her prime – was also filmed by Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack (OUT OF AFRICA, TOOTSIE), yet has remained unseen and unfinished for 46 years. Audiences will finally see Franklin sing a mix of gospel standards and contemporary songs, including ”Never Grow Old,” Marvin Gaye’s “Wholy Holy,” “God Will Take Care of You,” Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” “How I Got Over,” the title track, and much more.
Although the film was originally planned to be released by Warner Bros. in 1972 (on a double bill with SUPER FLY), there was difficulty finishing the film due to synchronization issues. The film languished in the vault for decades. Alan Elliott, a producer and associate of Jerry Wexler, and editor Jeff Buchanan supervised the completion of the film and remastered the soundtrack with renowned engineer Jimmy Douglass.
USA 1972/2018 87 MINS.
“One of Hollywood’s holy grails… capturing what is considered to be Aretha Franklin’s most transcendent gospel performance, is headed to theaters 46 years after it was filmed. AMAZING GRACE is one of the most famous films never released. It was shot by Sydney Pollack over two nights in 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles as Ms. Franklin recorded an album that would become one of the best-selling gospel records of all time.”
– Brooks Barnes, The New York Times
“THE FILM EVENT OF THE YEAR. AMAZING GRACE is a movie worth seeing and re-seeing and re-seeing again, a testament to the Queen of Soul at the height of her powers, live, in full color, in rich sound, resplendent… Every moment of this movie is extraordinarily pleasurable…It’s one thing to hear Franklin sing ‘Never Grow Old’ on the Amazing Grace album, but it is an otherworldly experience to see her sing it and to watch her father and (gospel singer Clara) Ward react to it.”
– Dan Callahan, The Wrap
“Without a doubt one of the finest music documentaries ever. For close to 90 minutes I sat with chills up and down my spine.”
– Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian
“TRANSCENDENT. One of the most elusive film projects of all time, full of twists and turns that would have made Orson Welles order a stiff drink… The film’s high point, much like the album’s, is Aretha’s rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’... It’s enough to make you get religion.”
– Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
“NOTHING SHORT OF A REVELATION, soaring from one chill-inducing moment to another… Music fans have been waiting almost half a century to see (this) storied documentary that many thought might never see the light of day… As a document of an iconic musician’s skills, the film is essential. But AMAZING GRACE is far more than that: Watching it is a transcendent, spine-tingling, uplifting, utterly joyous experience.”
– Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR
“A MARVELOUS 87-minute testament to Franklin’s unrivaled singing ability… An indispensable visual companion to the album. The movie adds a remarkable amount of oomph to what is already among the most viscerally affecting releases in Franklin’s extensive discography — having seen the singer reduce the barrel-chested (Rev. James) Cleveland to tears, you can’t help but hear the music differently… This is a portrait of unwavering artistic commitment… The evidence of Franklin’s physically overwhelming singing, apparently dangerous when encountered at close range, continues to mount. The gospel great Clara Ward throws her head into her hands, stunned by the force of Franklin’s improvisations just a few feet away. Cleveland expresses his appreciation by throwing his handkerchief playfully at the singer; he misses Franklin and dings the camera lens instead. At another moment, the camera zooms to the back left corner of the church, where Mick Jagger can be spotted bopping along with the choir and clapping vigorously… The choral arrangements are as remarkable to see as they are to hear.”
– Elias Leight, Rolling Stone
On Amazing Grace, the album:
“(Franklin’s) most shattering and indispensable recording.”
– The New Yorker
“For all the historic moments that she helped soundtrack and elevate over the span of decades, it was the pair of concerts delivered at New Temple Missionary Church in Los Angeles in 1972 that rank as her finest hours.”
– Corbin Rieff, Billboard