Berlinale: Programme

Film file


What Happened, Miss Simone?

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Sometime after the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King she is to be seen standing on a stage before an entirely Afro-American audience. Her hair is piled as high as a turban, there are enormous earrings swinging from her ears and she seems to be bewitching the crowd: are you ready to take up arms? Are you ready to kill? By this time Nina Simone was no longer merely the amazingly talented classical and jazz pianist and unmistakable singer politely presenting her version of ‘I loves you Porgy’ in the TV show ‘Playboy’s Penthouse’ moderated by Hugh Hefner, but a politically committed human rights activist capable of provoking – both in her public and private life. Making use of copious archive footage, documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus weaves the various phases of Simone’s life – right up to her final years in Europe when she oscillated between being broke, lonely and sick and a celebrated jazz festival star – into a detailed and atmospheric portrait of a driven artiste.

USA 2015, 102 min


Liz Garbus


Nina Simone