Aretha Franklin Gets Documentary Film Pulled from Film Festivals

By Jennifer E. Rothman
September 18, 2015

A lawsuit filed by famous recording artist, Aretha Franklin, against a documentary filmmaker, Allan Elliott, led to the pulling of his documentary film, “Amazing Grace,” from the line-ups at numerous prestigious film festivals, including Telluride and Toronto.  Ms. Franklin claims that the film violated her right of publicity by using some concert footage of her without her permission.  According to the complaint, the filmmaker received permission to use the footage from the copyright holders and had repeatedly asked Ms. Franklin for her permission to use the footage, but she refused to grant permission.  The case is still pending, but the court has issued an order that the filmaker cannot screen his film.  Ms. Franklin's case against the Telluride Film Festival was dropped once the festival agreed to remove the film from the festival's line-up. Although the case is pending in federal court in Colorado, Franklin's claim is for a right of publicity violation under California law.

First Amended Complaint in Franklin v. Elliott (D. Colo. 2015)

Order Not to Show Film

Dismissal of Telluride Film Festival