Earlier this week, Amy Winehouse‘s family “disassociated itself” from the upcoming documentary Amy, claiming the film is “both misleading and contains some basic untruths.” Now the late singer’s father, Mitch Winehouse, has issued some harsher words for the project in an interview with The Guardian. “It was horrible,” he said of the movie, adding that he even confronted the filmmakers directly after a screening. “I told them that they were a disgrace. I said: ‘You should be ashamed of yourselves. You had the opportunity to make a wonderful film and you’ve made this.”
He said the family had previously been approached numerous times with documentary ideas, chronicling his daughter’s upbringing, musical skill, drug addiction and death at age 27 in 2011. But the first pitch that rang true was from Amy director Asif Kapadia. Mitch had been impressed by the filmmaker’s “brilliant” 2010 doc Senna – a biopic of Brazilian motor racing champion Ayrton Senna – and “thought [they] were in safe hands.” Winehouse was also encouraged when the team asked permission to contact Amy’s ex-husband, Blake Fielder-Civil.
But Amy’s father claims that Kapadia and crew are “trying to portray [him] in the worst possible light” through misleading editing. (The film reconstructs the singer’s tragic story using archival footage, interviews and previously unseen recordings.) One scene reportedly shows Winehouse saying that his daughter didn’t need rehab. “It was 2005,” he said. “Amy had fallen – she was drunk and banged her head. She came to my house, and her manager came round and said: ‘She’s got to go to rehab.’ But she wasn’t drinking every day. She was like a lot of kids, going out binge-drinking. And I said: ‘She doesn’t need to go to rehab.’ In the film, I’m relating the story, and what I said was: ‘She didn’t need to go to rehab at that time.'”
Winehouse, a former London taxi driver, has often been portrayed in the media as a fame-seeker who exploited his daughter’s success to springboard into his own career. (In 2010, he released his own debut LP, Rush of Love. He also wrote a best-selling 2012 memoir, Amy: My Daughter.) But he defends his reputation to The Guardian, emphasizing his work with the Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity established after the singer’s death.
“When we started the foundation, my book was a Number One bestseller for 10 weeks,” he said. “We got over £1m in advances worldwide, and every penny went into the foundation. I sing all over the world, every penny goes into the foundation. I’m just talking about balance – there is no balance. They’re happy to portray me as a money-grabbing, attention-seeking father who wasn’t there. Amy wouldn’t want that, because Amy knows that is not the truth. My concern is that a potential funder might see this film and go: ‘Why would we want to give money?’ They can say what they like about me, I couldn’t care less, but when it affects the foundation, that’s when it hurts.”
Winehouse says he doesn’t plan to pursue legal action over the film — at least not at this point. In a recent interview with The Sun, he mentioned the possibility of suing for “libel or slander” after the documentary is released. “Our lawyers will view the film and reserve the right to do that and see whether there are any grounds,” he said.
Despite his anger over Amy, Winehouse can’t bring himself to boycott the film. “I’m starting to get on my own nerves with whingeing,” he told The Guardian. “I’d like to say to people: ‘Don’t go and see the film,’ but that would be depriving her fans of some incredible videos of Amy when she was younger. And I mean incredible. She was funny.”
He echoed that sentiment on Twitter earlier this week. “Let me be clear about film,” he wrote. “There is film of Amy that is fabulous. You should see it. Make your own minds up about the rest of film.”