If you’re wondering why the Nina Simone biopic “Nina,” starring Zoe Saldana, has taken more than two years since shooting wrapped to see the light of day, part of the reason has been lawsuits. Back in 2014, prior to the film’s debut for buyers at the Cannes Film Festival market, director Cynthia Mort sued production company Ealing Studios, claiming they interfered over her approvals of the final shooting script, casting, distribution, budget, and more, and that the movie was no longer reflective of her vision of the jazz legend. And thus, the picture gathered dust, only to finally be acquired last fall by indie house RLJ Entertainment.
Co-starring David Oyelowo, the picture actually focuses on the latter part of Simone’s life, and her relationship with her assistant Clifton Henderson. It’s certainly not the most obvious section of the singer and pianist’s life to focus on, but that era does represent her return to the spotlight after years of being near-penniless and forgotten.
Here’s the official synopsis:
NINA traces the career of legendary American singer-songwriter and civil rights activist, Nina Simone (Saldana). The story follows her struggle to balance music, family and what she believes in, which leaves her living alone in France feeling exiled from her own country. That is, until she meets Clifton Henderson (Oyelowo) who helps the high priestess of soul rediscover meaning in her life and music, and to once again embrace America. NINA reflects both her and the people she gave voice to in both their searches for redemption and hope in America during the 1960’s.
“Nina” opens on April 22nd. Watch below.