Location: Redstone Theater
Screening followed by conversation with Rob Johnson, one of the producers of the film, and Warrington Hudlin about black musical genius, particularly in the music incubated in Detroit
For the fifth consecutive year, Museum of the Moving Image partners with the Black Filmmaker Foundation (BFF) to celebrate Black History Month. This screening and discussion was organized by Warrington Hudlin in his dual capacity as Vice Chairman of the Museum and President of the Black Filmmaker Foundation.
Dir. Sydney Pollack. 2018, 87 mins. DCP. Produced by Joe Boyd, Aretha Franklin, Alan Elliott, Rob Johnson, Sabrina V. Owens, Angie Seegers, Tirrell D. Whittley, and Joseph Woolf under the banner of Al’s Records And Tapes, in association with Time, 40 Acres and a Mule, Rampant, and Sundial Pictures.
Featuring Aretha Franklin, James Cleveland, C. L. Franklin, Bernard Purdie, Chuck Rainey, Clara Ward, with cameos by Mick Jagger, Sydney Pollack, and Charlie Watts.
Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace looms large in the annals of the recording industry, having sold over 2 million copies and set the all-time sales record for a gospel album. Recorded live over two days at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972, the performance found the Queen of Soul at the height of her rousing, rapturous powers, but the film that was to accompany the recording was never completed due to difficulties syncing the audio tracks with the visual print. In 2001, producer Alan Elliott purchased the raw footage and using new technologies in sound editing created a pared-down 87-minute version with plans to release it in 2011. However, Franklin sued Elliott for appropriating her likeness without permission and the release date passed. This occurred again in 2015, when attempts to debut the film at the Telluride, Toronto, and Chicago Film Festivals were blocked. After Franklin’s death in 2018, her family made an arrangement to release the film, which premiered at DOC NYC in 2018, before being released worldwide in 2019, and revealing a movie as brilliant as the artist herself.
About the guest speaker:
Rob Johnson is the President and co-founder of the Institute for New Economic Thinking. He has been a financial investor as a managing director at Soros Fund Management, Moore Capital Management, and Bankers Trust Company. Over the last 20 years he has worked in documentary film. In addition to his role as a producer of the film Amazing Grace, Johnson has also been an executive producer of Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side. Johnson ran the music company Bottled Majic Music between 1996 and 2006 and produced many Roots and Blues records while reinvigorating Rooster Blues Records that was originated by Blues scholar and icon Jim O’Neal. This work included the W.C. Handy Award–winning recording “Freedom Creek” by Willie King, the song “Terrorized” by Willie King, and Ike Turner’s “Here and Now,” which was nominated for a Grammy award in 2001. He is currently working on the audio recording and film of the theater production “Caged” that tells the tale of prison life from prisoners who have experienced the “inside” realities of that devastating element of our society.