Sundance 2015 opened with Liz Garbus’ timely documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” which focuses on a powerful, complicated musician who fought racism, sexism, and her abusive manager-husband, and found solace in the Civil Rights movement. Garbus, one of many docmakers who has felt lifted by Sundance her whole career, described Simone as “a genius who changed the musical landscape but never got her due.”
She and her team tracked down every piece of film they could find on Simone, allowing the jazz artist to narrate the story via interviews — plus talking heads who were close to her: musical director, ex-husband, daughter — and emotive songs. Pianist and crooner John Legend performed three songs after the film, and Sundance hosted another night of musical tributes to Simone. Hopefully we will see a Simone resurgence.
Netflix and coproducer RadicalMedia are billing this as “the most authentic, personal, and unflinching telling of the extraordinary life of one of the 20th century’s greatest recording artists.”