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Aretha Franklin nearing resolution in documentary battle

Aretha Franklin and producer Alan Elliott are finally close to an agreement to release his documentary Amazing Grace.
The 73-year-old Queen of Soul won a series of legal bids in a Colorado Federal Court last year (15), banning the movie from being screened at several film festivals, but in a new, joint injunction filed on Monday (07Mar16), attorneys for both parties – Neal Cohen for Elliott and N. Reid Neureiter for Franklin – made it clear they are nearing a deal on the contentious matter.
“Since the entry of the First Order in September 2015, the Parties have been engaged in extensive and extended negotiations seeking a resolution to this dispute,” the court document reads, according to Deadline. “These negotiations have taken place in good faith. The negotiations, which involve third parties, are very complex.”
Although the film was due to screen at the Telluride, Toronto and Chicago film festivals in 2015, the lawsuit Franklin filed halted all of these premieres, and as a result of the litigation, Elliott cannot legally show Amazing Grace in public or pitch the documentary to potential distributors. This restriction on Elliott is set to expire on 10 March (16), but the lawyers insist because there are so many parties involved in the legal dispute, the court should grant an extension on the imposition.
“Unfortunately, given the complexity of the negotiations and the multiple parties involved (including persons or entities not involved in this litigation), there is, at present, no assurance that a final resolution will be reached in the near term,” the motion continues. “The Parties are optimistic that the stars will eventually align, but cannot in good conscience represent to the Court that there will be a final resolution in an additional 30 or even 60 days.”
The disputed documentary features footage shot by director Sydney Pollack at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles back in 1972, as Franklin recorded her live album Amazing Grace.
Pollack’s initial plans to release the film to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the classic album were scrapped as he struggled to sync the sound and video footage, and following his death in 2008, producer Elliott set about restoring the documentary.
However, Franklin argued the footage had been taken with the express understanding that it would not be used commercially without her “agreement and consent”, and proceeded to fight its release.

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