24 user 65 critic

What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography, Music | 24 June 2015 (USA)
2:19 | Trailer
A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the "High Priestess of Soul."


Liz Garbus
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »





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 ... Cast: Mrs Mazzanovich (as Elizabeth Henry)


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


Her Story. Her Voice.


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


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 »


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 »


Features Playboy's Penthouse (1959) See more »


I Put a Spell On You
Written by Screamin' Jay Hawkins (as Jay Hawkins)
Published by EMI Unart Catalog, Inc./BMI
Performed by Nina Simone, Courtesy of The Verve Music Group
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

User Reviews

Mrs. Backlash Blues
20 July 2015 | by bland-kevin67See all my reviews

The telling of Nina's story through the words of her family and old footage from her as well is truly moving and unsettling. I felt the closing in of the events that lead to her fame, fall, and fatality. It seems as if everyone was affected by the power of her illness which was fueled by the times. I am not sure if one accelerated the other. Growing up in the south and traveling all over the world does something to you. You become enlightened and the junk that was going on in the US over race was ludicrous and enraging. I am not sure if I could deal with that back then either. Nina was truly ahead of her time but got stuck in time due to the violence of those times. I love the way she expressed her disdain for the instrument of her fame and I also loved the attitude she had about her own voice. I grew up listening to this strange voice and at first I could not figure out if it was a man or woman until further into the album. This documentary is a timely tribute to the singer and it also allowed us to see what she was going through and why she fell off the face of the earth for a while. I look at her from a different pair of eyes now and I am grateful to know her story.

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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


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

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