Why Aretha Franklin filed motion to block release of documentary

Aretha Franklin
Source: Youtube/TIFFTrailers

Legendary singer Aretha Franklin filed and was granted a motion to prevent the screening of the much hyped Amazing Grace documentary at the recent Telluride Film Festival.

Franklin’s motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado, contends that the footage that makes up the documentary “was taken with the express understanding that it would not be used commercially without agreement and consent by Ms. Franklin.”


“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,” her complaint says. “It is also in direct and specific violation of the quitclaim agreement by which the footage was obtained from the Warner Brothers organization by Mr. Alan Elliott, the purported producer of ‘Amazing Grace.’”

After Franklin testified via phone, U.S. District Judge John Kane ruled in her favor, thereby forcing the producers of the Telluride fest to find a last-minute replacement film to show in Grace’s place.


Kane said in his ruling that Franklin “has a high likelihood of success on the merits,” and also made mention of a 2008 agreement that Elliott got for the footage that clearly states that Franklin’s permission is needed before it can be used.

The Telluride ruling now puts the planned screening of the film at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival in jeopardy.

Franklin had previously sued Elliott regarding use of the footage in 2011. That suit was settled when Elliott agreed not to release it for commercial usage.

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