Asif Kapadia on the message behind 'Amy'

Video | 19 Jun 2015

We talk to Asif Kapadia, director of Amy, the new documentary on the life and times of Amy Winehouse in this video shot at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Asif discusses his take on the issues and topics featured in Amy – the follow-up to his BAFTA-winning Ayrton Senna documentary Senna – and talks about the themes explored in the new film. Read our review of Amy here.

Amy screens at Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015 on 20 Jun; the film is due for general release on 3 Jul .

Videography by Richard Ferguson.

"Is there a message behind the film? I guess there is an issue, actually there are a lot of issues in Amy's life. She was a very complicated girl, her situation was very complex, there were a lot of layers in the filmmaking process. 

"On one level, it's about a great singer who, as I was doing the research, I found out actually is an amazing writer and I almost think the writing is better than the singing. A lot of people can sing but it's... what do they sing? So she was an amazing writer, it was all personal. So it became on one level the story of an artist, someone who creates. Where do ideas come from, how do we create, what inspires them. Then it's about family, it's about relationships, it's about boyfriends, it's about friendships, it's about love in various forms.

"And then I suppose that towards the end, the film becomes very much about the media and paparazzi and journalists and comedians and people who can quite easily, without thinking, just turn on someone, someone that they've built up and can tear them down and kind of enjoy and wallow in the fact that this person is a bit of a mess and therefore it's funny. And the audience then join in, so somewhere towards the end of the film there is, I don't know if there's a message but it's just highlighting; look at what we did, look at how we all became. 

"Because it was a collective thing, it wasn't just one or two people it was everybody that seemed to enjoy giving her a bit of a kicking and enjoying making fun of her of her, laughing at her because she didn't answer back and, you know, she gets what she deserves. She's rich, you know, 'why are you drinking?' And then you realise actually she's got issues, she's got problems. 

"It's about addiction, it's about alcohol. Whether it's about drinks, drugs, whatever there is an addictive personality at play, there potentially is mental illness. There are all of these things that are going on and some of that motivated her creativity and a lot of it seemed to motivate her downfall and I suppose at the end the audience and journalists who have seen the film do think a little bit about how complicit they were about what happened, and that's what's interesting about the film. People watch it about her and then they realise it's actually about us."

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