Amy, about the life and death of English singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, won the Documentary Feature Oscar this year for director Asif Kapadia despite objections to the movie being raised by her father. The film, which also won Best Documentary Feature at the BAFTAs only a week ago, was put into production and went forward without the blessing from her family.
How did the film happen? The chairman and CEO of Winehouse’s record label, Universal Music, was the man who first talked to Kapadia and Gay-Rees about the possibility of a feature documentary based on the famed but troubled artist. The family initially agreed to their cooperation on the film, until they saw an early cut. After that, Amy’s father Mitch Winehouse condemned it as “a miserable and misleading portrait” of their daughter. In the film, he is portrayed as a father who refused to let his daughter go to rehab because it would interfere with her tour and music commitments.
Still, Kapadia and Gay-Rees forged ahead trying to work with Amy’s friends and what family they could “It became a Catch-22, whereby her really close friends would say, ‘You’ve got to tell the truth, and we need you to help us,’ and then, ‘I don’t want to be involved,” the producer told Deadline in a previous interview.
“To the contributors, everyone who trusted us to actually make this film” said Kapadia in accepting the award. “Really, this film is all about Amy, this is all about showing the world who she really was: not her tabloid persona, the beautiful girl, the amazing soul, funny, intelligent, witty, someone special, someone who needed looking after. We just wanted to make a film to show the world who she really was,.
The film, distributed by A24, not only follows Amy Winehouse’s rise to stardom and success by winning multiple Grammys but also her dive into the depths of addiction and bulimia all in the public eye — problems that eventually led to her death at the height of her career and at the age of 27. The official coroner’s report said she died of alcohol poisoning.