Gloria Gaynor, famous for her hit song “I Will Survive,” is the subject of a new documentary chronicling the last eight years of her life, which saw a career stalled by health issues and abuse and mismanagement from her now ex-husband. The documentary, titled Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive, tells the story of Gaynor’s comeback journey, culminating in the release of her gospel album Testimony, which won her a second Grammy 40 years after her first. The film highlights the support from her manager Stephanie Gold and what it took to get back to where she is, having earned a psychology degree in her later years.
The Making of the Documentary
The documentary was a labor of love for director Betsy Schechter, who runs Storyville Entertainment. Schechter was introduced to Gaynor and her manager in 2015 and was immediately captivated by Gaynor’s passion and her mission to not just survive but to thrive. She spent a few days filming the early days of the record in Nashville to “gut check whether it was worth pursuing” and decided to make the film. Schechter spent almost eight years relentlessly documenting all the twists and turns that would happen as Gaynor tried to finish her album and spread her message of hope and resilience to the public. It was a departure for Schechter, who is best known for producing series such as A&E’s Paranormal State and Nat Geo’s Abandoned. Schechter directed, produced, and self-funded the documentary, and had the unusual luxury of time, something she never had before, considering the tight deadlines of her other projects.
The Documentary’s Reception and Future Plans
The documentary premiered at the Tribeca Festival on Friday, and Gaynor thanked Schechter and started to sing a cappella. The hope now is to score a distribution deal at Tribeca. There are potential plans to launch a run of special theatrical screenings, playing to Gaynor’s fanbase, as well as faith audiences. The documentary tells an inspiring story of resilience and perseverance, and Gaynor’s fans are eagerly anticipating its release.