Bama Theatre to feature music biopic Amy

Bama Theatre to feature music biopic Amy

A photo of musician Amy Winehouse from the music documentary “Amy”. Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes. 

Sam West

It’s hard to miss the Bama Theatre when you’re in the downtown area. The facade of the movie house is bold, bright and classic-looking, reflecting the era in which it was created. The Bama Theatre was constructed in the 1930s as a movie theatre, but has since become a landmark in the Tuscaloosa community and a venue for arts of all kind.

The retro-looking movie palace now houses the best in cutting-edge cinema. Through its Bama Art House lineup, the theatre screens independent movies, documentaries and foreign films in one night only events. “Amy,” a documentary about the life of singer Amy Winehouse, which received rave reviews from critics, will run tonight at 7:30 p.m. as the second film in the Bama Art House’s fall lineup.

“Amy,” directed by Asif Kapadia, is an intimate perspective on Winehouse’s life featuring video of her that hasn’t been seen by the public. The film includes several previously unreleased songs by Winehouse.

““There’s a lot of unseen footage, [including] some home movies, apparently, from her childhood,” said David Allgood, manager of the Bama Theatre.

“Amy” takes a unique approach to the musical documentary, giving a look at Winehouse’s private life as well as her public career. “Amy” will incorporate emails, voicemails and photos of the artist into her story.

“Kapadia chose not to filter Winehouse’s impact with any new on-camera interviews, so interpretations of her rise to celebrity and her tragic death will be left to the audience,” said Ann Bourne, an Arts Council member since 2009. 

Winehouse was a critically-acclaimed and commercially successful English singer-songwriter, known for her powerful, emotional vocals. She was the first British woman to win five Grammy Awards. Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning at age 27.

The Bama Art House film series, which is in its fifth year, has shown a variety of films during its run. Some of the biggest hits for the theatre in the past have been Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Muscle Shoals,” a documentary about an important landmark in Alabama’s musical history.

Many of the independent, foreign and art films shown at the Bama Theatre aren’t run anywhere else in West Alabama. The cinema is an alternative to commercial multiplexes that show more well-known, big-budget movies.

“[These films] boldly enrich the culture by holding up ideas and entertainment to challenge and encourage audiences,” Bourne said.

Beyond “Amy,” the theatre offers a compelling slate of films for the rest of the fall. Amy Ahmed, an Arts Council member for the past three years, says she is particularly excited for “Love and Mercy.” That film is a biopic on Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson that will come to the Bama Theatre next week. 

Ahmed believes the Bama Theatre is both a historical landmark and an icon that people immediately associate with Tuscaloosa.

“I think no matter what part of the community you come from, you know and love and support the Bama Theatre for what it is and its place in history and Tuscaloosa,” she said.

The doors to the Bama Theatre open at 6:45 p.m.