The acclaimed documentary about Amy Winehouse provokes an element of “complicity and guilt” in watching the downfall of the talented musician, who we “should have looked after a bit more,” the director of the film has said.
Asif Kapadia, who scooped the Media and Creative Arts award at the GG2 Leadership Awards last Wednesday (21), spoke to Eastern Eye after being presented with his trophy.
Kapadia said: “It’s nice, you do it for the work because it’s a passion and you love doing what you do. This is always a lovely bonus.”
Amy – which premiered at the Cannes film festival earlier this year – had touched many people since its release, Kapadia said. Based on the rise and fall of the young London-born star who succumbed to alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27, the film grossed an impressive £3.44 million in the UK.
“The film touched people on many levels, on a musical level, on an emotional level. But also there’s an element of complicity and guilt that comes out of seeing what happens to someone that really we should have looked after a bit more,” Kapadia said.
“The story of Amy is about her, it’s about her music as an artist and the fact that she wrote songs from personal experiences and heartbreak and about love. What I found when we were making the movie (is) it actually ends up becoming about us, it’s about London, about how we treated her.
“It’s about how the media treated her when she was in a bad way. When she was on her way down, people seemed to almost enjoy seeing the downfall of someone rich and successful,” he added.
Amy uses intimate home-video footage to chart the British jazz sensation from her teenage years to her tragic death. She was also plagued by drug abuse and bulimia.
Kapadia said his biggest challenge in producing Amy was breaking through a wall of silence among Winehouse’s friends. In an interview earlier this year, he said: “Most of the people had never given an interview. They were nervous, upset, some were guilty, some were angry.
“A lot of them had made a pact to never speak because they were so shocked by what had happened, and that no one had stopped it.
“But one by one they trusted us and then they couldn’t stop. It was like therapy for them.”
The depiction of the singer also triggered controversy, with Amy’s father Mitch Winehouse complaining that it portrayed him as “money-grabbing” and “attention-seeking.”
However, Kapadia insisted everything in the film had been triple-checked and it was an honest interpretation from around 100 interviews with family and friends.
The Hackney born filmmaker has also received plaudits for his feature The Warrior (2001), and Senna in 2010 about the Brazilian motor-racing legend Ayrton Senna. It was nominated for three BAFTA awards, winning Best Documentary and Best Editing.
Senna went on to become the highest-grossing British documentary of all time and broke UK sales records on DVD and blu-ray. The film also won numerous awards around the world, including the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival.