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Amy Winehouse film director: 'I wanted to show the fun, bright-eyed girl we didn't know'

Asif Kapadia insists his documentary tells the truth about the singer's life in the face of opposition from her father Mitch Winehouse

Daisy Wyatt
Tuesday 30 June 2015 14:53 BST
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(On The Corner Films)

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Amy Winehouse is best remembered as a frail, tragic singer whose musical talents were eclipsed by alcohol and drugs - but new documentary Amy seeks to readdress the image of the late artist that lives on in our minds.

From the filmmakers behind Senna, Amy gives a heart-warming portrayal of the young artist from north London before taking a devastating turn as it examines Winehouse’s self-destructive streak that led to her untimely death at the age of 27.

Director Asif Kapadia, who created the film using archival footage and interviews with Winehouse, said he wanted to show another side to the troubled singer, including home videos of her joking with friends and playing the guitar.

“That final image of Amy being messed up and stumbling around, that’s so powerful and that’s all people remembered,” he said.

“So it was really a case of re-balancing the way people perceived her by showing the young, fun, happy, bright-eyed healthy girl that she used to be, who was just amazing. You think it would have been nice to have met her, she would have been fun to hang out with.”

Told through interviews with more than 100 people who knew Winehouse, the film builds up a picture of the singer in the words of those closest to her, revealing her problems with depression and bulimia as a teenager following her parents' divorce when she was eight.

“In terms of her family, I think it was a complicated situation she grew up in,” Kapadia said.

“Her Mum has talked about not being able to be motherly to her and Amy herself says in the film that when she was growing up her Dad wasn’t around.”

Despite agreeing to take part in the documentary, Winehouse’s father Mitch has threatened legal action against the filmmakers for, he believes, falsely portraying him as an uncaring father.

He dropped his plans to sue for defamation after the film was re-edited, but still claims the film is misleading. In on scene the documentary includes footage of him bringing a camera crew to St Lucia for his own TV documentary on families dealing with addiction while Winehouse was trying to get clean. Mitch has said Amy agreed to let him bring the film crew to the island, which isn't shown in the film.

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But Kapadia remains unfazed by Mitch’s comments, denying he had any agenda before starting work on the documentary.

“We were just trying to be honest to Amy really, to show that she was in a confused situation and I think a lot of people got confused about her and the fame and the fact everybody wanted a piece of her,” he said.

“People that were anywhere near Amy were suddenly being interviewed and being on TV and it becomes quite exciting for people and that wasn’t necessarily great for her. And we had to show that, it would be remiss to not show it.”

He added Mitch features so much in the film because he played a big role in Winehouse's life.

"Everyone said she really loved her Dad and he loved her. The film is not about their relationship, it's about loads of things that were going on so it's not a denial [that he was a good father].

"He's in the film because he was a key part of her life."

Amy is released in cinemas nationwide on Friday 3 July.

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