Mitch Winehouse on Amy the film: ‘I told them they were a disgrace. I said: You should be ashamed of yourselves’
As the release of a documentary about Amy Winehouse’s life nears, her father, Mitch, believes it portrays him as greedy and uncaring. He made mistakes, he admits, but ‘not loving our daughter was not one of them’ – and he is fearful of the film’s impact on the foundation set up in her memory.
The first time Mitch Winehouse saw the forthcoming film Amy, a documentary about his daughter’s life, was in a screening room in October. “It was horrible,” he says. When it ended, he went up to the film-makers, who were also there. “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.’” What was their reaction? “They were pretty calm about it, actually.” This week, the Winehouse family, who had initially given their blessing to the project, distanced themselves from the film, claiming that it “is both misleading and contains some basic untruths”.
He says the family was approached several times about making a film about his daughter’s life – her childhood, and clear emerging talent, followed by her descent into addiction and her death in 2011 at the age of 27 – but the projects sounded a bit trashy, and they’d always said they weren’t interested. Then the director, Asif Kapadia, became involved; Winehouse watched his 2010 film, Senna, an acclaimed biopic of the Brazilian motor racing champion. “I thought: this is brilliant. So we thought we were in safe hands. The process started off OK – they asked how we would feel about Blake [Fielder-Civil, Amy’s ex-husband] being in the film. I said: ‘You can’t have a film about Amy without Blake being in it.’ What was he going to say? He has already said he was the one who caused Amy’s addiction [Fielder-Civil has admitted introducing Amy to heroin]. But I thought it was nice that they asked me.”
The film is not a flattering portrayal of Mitch Winehouse, or of his relationship with his daughter. “They are trying to portray me in the worst possible light,” he says. I haven’t seen the film – it premieres at Cannes film festival later this month, and its publicists declined a request this week for a screening. But Mitch Winehouse is not the only person to think its portrayal of him is fairly damning, though it does not let off the other key men in Amy Winehouse’s life, Fielder-Civil and her manager Raye Cosbert. The film-makers asked that this statement be included in this article: “When we were approached to make the film, we came on board with the full backing of the Winehouse family and we approached the project with total objectivity, as with Senna. During the production process, we conducted in the region of 100 interviews with people who knew AmyWinehouse; friends, family, former partners and members of the music industry who worked with her. The story that the film tells is a reflection of our findings from these interviews.”
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