amy winehouse

While Cannes is famous for its celebration of the A-list with its red carpet alone acting as a catwalk for the who’s who of Hollywood, the film festival got a sobering reminder of the dark side of celebrity with the premiere of the Amy Winehouse documentary – Amy.

Asif Kapadia’s new documentary on Amy Winehouse’s short life – she passed away in 2011 at the age of 27 after years wrestling with drug and alcohol addiction and bulimia – is one that celebrates the singer’s achievements but yet also reveals how she suffered from the pitfalls of fame. 

In the film Amy, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival, Asif interviews 80 close friends and relatives of the with their dialogue overlapping footage of the musician throughout her life and her career. The film opens with grainy footage of a 14-year-old Amy singing Happy Birthday to a friend. It ends with images of her friends crying at her funeral just 13 years later.

According to sources some of the media attending the premiere shifted uncomfortably as the  film showed how the tabloid media frenzy surrounding the singer contributed toward her demise. However, most were impressed with coverage.

The Hollywood Reporter called it “an emotionally stirring and technically polished tribute, its sprawling mass of diverse source material elegantly cleaned up, colour-corrected and shaped into a satisfying narrative.” The Guardian called it “stunningly moving and powerful: intimate, passionate, often shocking, and almost mesmerically absorbing.”

One of the saddest moments in the film comes when Amy, who shot to fame after the release of her album Back To Black, says in the footage, almost predicting her fate: “I don’t think I’m going to be at all famous. I don’t think I could handle it.”

While the two-hour documentary doesn’t put specific blame on anyone, it does question those close to Amy including her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil with whom she had a tumultuous relationship and her dad Mitch, who has disassociated himself from the film and it’s not hard to see why as his role as a ‘great’ dad is questioned.

In one scene Amy says: “Why have you done this to me? You have to come out with a camera crew! Are you only interested in me for what you can get out of me?” When Mitch did a documentary about his life, Amy took to Twitter say: “WHY don’t my dad WRITE a SONG when something bothers him instead of going on national TV?”

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, much of the film also celebrates Amy’s incredible talent for which she will always be remembered. Legendary crooner Tony Bennett compares her to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday saying: “She was a natural, a true jazz singer. She had the complete gift.”

The film will hit cinemas worldwide this summer.