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What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography, Music | 24 June 2015 (USA)
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A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the "High Priestess of Soul."

Director:

Liz Garbus
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Nina Simone ... Self (archive footage)
Lisa Simone Kelly Lisa Simone Kelly ... Self
Roger Nupie Roger Nupie ... Self
Al Schackman Al Schackman ... Self
George Wein George Wein ... Self
Stanley Crouch ... Self
Andrew Stroud Andrew Stroud ... Self (archive footage)
Dick Gregory ... Self
Ilyasah Shabazz ... Self
Attallah Shabazz Attallah Shabazz ... Self (as Ambassador Shabazz)
Gerrit De Bruin Gerrit De Bruin ... Self
Eleanor Belinfanti Eleanor Belinfanti ... Cast
Gregory Marlow Gregory Marlow ... Cast
Elisabeth Henry Elisabeth Henry ... Cast: Mrs Mazzanovich (as Elizabeth Henry)
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Storyline

On stage Nina Simone was known for her utterly free, uninhibited musical expression, which enthralled audiences and attracted life-long fans. But amid the violent, haunting, and senseless day-to-day of the civil rights era in 1960s America, Simone struggled to reconcile her artistic identity and ambition with her devotion to a movement. Culled from hours of autobiographical tapes, this new film unveils the unmitigated ego of a brilliant artist and the absurdities of her time. At the height of her fame Simone walked away from her family, country, career and fans, to move to Liberia and give up performing. The story of her life leading up to that event poses the question, 'how does royalty stomp around in the mud and still walk with grace?'

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Her Story. Her Voice.


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

24 June 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

What Happened, Miss Simone? See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lisa Simone Kelly who is Nina Simone's daughter, joined the project as a producer in reaction to her distaste for the biopic Nina (2016)which she believed inaccurately portrayed her mother. See more »

Quotes

Nina Simone: We will shape and mold this country or it will not be molded and shaped at all anymore. So I think we don't have a choice. How can you be an artist and not reflect the times?
See more »

Connections

Features Playboy's Penthouse (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Are You Ready?
(from a poem by David Nelson of The Last Poets)
Performed by Nina Simone
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Engrossing, passionate and powerful documentary of an incredible life
5 August 2015 | by themadmoviemanSee all my reviews

This is a very powerful and passionate documentary that tells the life of the legendary Nina Simone in great fashion. With a brilliant collection of stock footage that not only looks at Simone as a music icon but also a hugely significant civil rights activist and a person, this is a fascinating and engrossing documentary.

Going into this, I knew next to nothing about Nina Simone. The Civil Rights Movement has always been fascinating to me, but the musicians involved, I didn't think much.

However, this documentary makes all of that even more enthralling to learn about, and extremely accessible to non-experts. If you haven't ever heard of Nina Simone, you can easily go into this film and be engrossed by the entire story.

In terms of the way that this film tells the whole story, it's very impressive. Structurally, it's a bit of a by-the-books documentary, but if you get deeper into it, you discover that it's a very passionate and fitting tribute to Simone's life.

The first period of the film details her rise to fame in the jazz world in the 1950s from her lowly beginnings in a southern town, and shows you all sorts of fascinating clips from her childhood that show what a struggle her journey was, and from her earliest performances that gave birth to a genius in the music industry.

With interviews from both herself and her closest friends and family, you also get an extremely personal look into this story. For all of the hype surrounding her musical talent, there's still a very touching smaller story about Simone as a person. Ultimately, it's a sad story that she suffered so much from personal demons and domestic issues, however this film really allows you to empathise with a person that was, at her time, so aggressive and loud.

That's where the story about her as a civil rights activist comes in. This film thinks very highly of her role in the entire movement, rightly placing her amidst historical titans like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. It talks about how she brought attention to the movement to a different crowd, and in a different way, and despite her disagreements with King's non-violent protest tactics and her support for a more aggressive approach, her importance cannot be understated.

Overall, this is a great documentary, that not only gives you an accessible historical insight into the life of this incredible personality, but one that will both entertain and fully engross you.

www.themadmovieman.com


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