Review:  Amazing Grace the Movie


[Los Angeles, CA]   Aretha Franklin recorded her Amazing Grace album January 13th & 14th 1972 at New Temple Missionary Baptist Church located on 87th & Broadway in South Los Angeles.  It was a live recording and featured many greats, including Rev. James Cleveland.

First screened Feb. 2019

The album was produced but the live footage was shelved for decades until the estate of “The Queen of Soul” approved it to be shown.  In February of this year, the Pan-African Film Festival featured the screening as part of it’s opening night festivities.  The screening took place at the Director’s Guild in Hollywood.

 

Starting April 5th, the general public has been given an opportunity to see the screening as it debuted in over 1,000 theaters.  I was one of those viewers.

 

The film is just as iconic as the album as “The Queen” at age 29 dazzled those in attendance by her gospel renditions.  The 87-minute film is more raw footage of the two-day concert and features many camera angles which were present to document the occasion.

 

While the documentary is, what it is; it falls short on taking advantage of the storytelling which are featured in similar formats.  You are left wondered why the producers could not have woven in more anecdotal reactions from those who participated in the filming as well as more commentary which was surely would be available before and following 1972?

 

The documentary is worth seeing.  The church is still on 87th & Broadway so it will be interesting to see the reaction of those who take a stroll down memory lane.


My “Hoodie Score” on a scale of 1-10 (ten being the highest) is an 8, due to the rare footage.

Aretha Franklin Kicks Off 27th Annual PAFF


Legendary Gospel and R&B artist Aretha Franklin will kick-off the 27th annual Pan-African Film Festival.  The never seen documentary which featured Franklin’s historic album – “Amazing Grace” will finally hit the big screens.  Through all of the years since the 1972 concert was filmed, due to various reasons it had never been shown.

The filming will be seen tonight at 7:30pm at the Director’s Guild located on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.  The rest of PAFF’s extraordinary lineup of independent films showcasing producer’s across the diaspora will be seen at the Rave Cinemark theaters in Baldwin Hills at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping complex.

A little nugget of history

Watts is a community in Los Angeles.  It was always known as a place many came to call home following the migration of African-Americans moving from parts of the South.  In 1965, due to feeling abuse, discrimination and the basic lack of upward mobility, some members of the community erupted and the riot which followed became known as the “Watts Riots.”

Through the years which followed the name Watts became synonymous with anything bad or negative.  As Los Angeles continued to grow, African-Americans moved in greater numbers to all parts of the city.  It was not uncommon to see various media reports mention any place where African-Americans lived in Los Angeles described as Watts.  More specifically some reports mentioned any place south of the Santa Monica freeway as being in Watts!

Historically, that is laughable if not insulting to the many who lived in Watts and were proud citizens.  The community of Watts is fairly small.  The north/south boundary is Firestone (Manchester) to the north and Imperial Highway to the south.  The east/west boundary is Central Avenue to the west and Alameda Street to the east.

The reason this tidbit or perspective is mentioned is many who have come to know about the famous concert Mrs. Franklin performed in debuting  Amazing Grace have listed the origin as taking place in Watts.  Unfortunately that is not correct.  New Temple Missionary Baptist Church is at 87th Street and Broadway and was erected in 1966.  That location has never been in Watts as it has always been in what is known as South Central Los Angeles.

 

For more information on PAFF and the 150+ screenings, click HERE