The acclaimed Amy Winehouse documentary Amy will arrive in theatres July 3rd after generating rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival, and in a new clip from the intimate film, witness a 14-year-old Winehouse belt out an impressive “Happy Birthday” at a friend’s birthday party in 1998. This early evidence of the singer’s remarkable singing abilities is just a snippet of the never-before-seen home movies and footage that form Amy.
Director Asif Kapadia recently spoke to Rolling Stone about the documentary and what he discovered digging into Winehouse’s archives. “What I learned was what a creative, intelligent, funny human being she was,” Kapadia says. “I didn’t know any of that. I don’t know if anyone did.” The film is divided in two parts: In the first half, we watch a young, talented, one-of-a-kind singer get her footing and blossom into a star. However, in the second half, we watch as Winehouse falls into her drugged-out downward spiral, precipitated by hangers-on, the media and even her own family.
“It’s quite visceral,” Kapadia said. “Through the tabloids, her life became a joke, and she was a sensitive soul. She wasn’t confident enough to deal with these issues.” The documentary also tackles Winehouse’s little-known struggle with bulimia, which likely played a role in her premature death in 2011. “She’d have meetings in restaurants and be eating and eating, but she didn’t have anything to her body mass,” Kapadia says.
However, there are also moments that capture Winehouse in her prime. Kapadia revealed that the production team lucked into acquiring video of Winehouse in the studio during her “Back to Black” sessions. “We heard a rumor that someone was filming during the session, and we eventually found it,” Kapadia said. Despite earning the trust of Winehouse’s friends, managers and even ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, Kapadia still didn’t receive the Winehouse family’s approval over the film due to the portrayal of Amy’s father Mitch Winehouse.
“I told them that they were a disgrace,” Mitch Winehouse told the filmmakers after seeing the film. “I said, ‘You should be ashamed of yourselves. You had the opportunity to make a wonderful film and you’ve made this.'” The Winehouse family also released a statement claiming Amy is “both misleading and contains some basic untruths.” The family has “disassociated” themselves from the documentary.
Amy opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on July 3rd before going nationwide July 10th.