By Lungz Mathupha
Ever wondered why people sob and cry fitfully at the loss of a famous muso – somebody they didn’t know personally, in the sense that they’d never met or shared a coffee or even a fleeting ‘hello’ and ‘see you later’? A recent tweet hit the bull’s eye with this simple answer to the phenomenon: because the artist helped you to know yourself.
Her life’s impact
At the preview screening of highly anticipated Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy, I found myself in a puddle of tears and tangled up in a wave of emotion. It wasn’t just sadness at the premature loss of extraordinary talent, or the anger of how so few people in her corner actually had her best interests at heart – mostly, it was realising how destructive the journey toward safeguarding a sense of normalcy can be for a mega superstar.
To this day, I’m a huge fan. The husky voice paired with soulful instruments always soothes my spirit. The honesty of her lyrics touches an audience of many different cultures, values and beliefs. You feel a magnetic connection from the first strum of the guitar to the last vibration of the piano. It’s like magic.
The much talked about documentary features never-before-seen footage and won the 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary, as well as the British Academy Film Awards equivalent. It’s an intimate journey through the talented singer/songwriter’s career and family life, that strays from the media’s sole focus on her drug addiction, to highlight how extraordinarily gifted she was.
Must-see parts of the film
The doccie draws you in with clips of a 16-year-old Amy who’s bright-eyed and ready to show her townsmen all she can do with her voice. She didn’t have dreams of becoming famous – in fact she speaks about wanting to sing in nearby pubs and lounges. She couldn’t relate with the music being produced at the time and decided to create something completely different. It’s this small revelation that helps to later understand why her downfall as a celebrity was so huge. But in spite of this, her stardom as a musician doesn’t diminish.
There’s a beautiful but heartbreaking scene when Amy gets to perform alongside her biggest influence – Tony Bennet. She’s in the height of her struggle with drug abuse, but for this monumental musical occasion, she cleans up, and re-take after re-take, makes sure she’s giving him the very best of herself. The room is filled with awe for the legend and his prodigy – it’s honestly a jazz match made in heaven.
There are many scenes of self-destruction and just as many where the ones closest to her enabled her destruction. It’s the tragedy of greatness we’ve come to know, but still aren’t quite used to. It’s overwhelming, but that’s the power of art and reality (whether imagined or real).
To watch Amy, get a ticket to the European Film Festival which is being hosted at Ster Kinekor’s Cinema Nouveau nationwide. The festival features film works from 11 European countries between 6 and 15 May 2016. Also check out German and Chechen drama from Belgium, Macondo, as well as French drama, Chocolat, which features Charlie Chaplin’s grandson.