The Amazing Nina Simone

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2015 | 110 minutes | Rated NR

Last June, the online media giant Netflix released What Happened, Miss Simone?, a documentary about the great American pianist, composer, and singer Nina Simone. The documentary is mostly told from the perspective of Nina's daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, who seems to have been much closer to her father, Andy Stroud (Nina's manager for many years), than her mother. Lisa does not appear in The Amazing Nina Simone, a documentary that is more reverential but also more rounded than Miss Simone. Directed by Jeff L. Lieberman, Amazing spends a good part of its running time describing the discovery and development of Nina Simone's genius.

Amazing also mentions something that is completely absent from Miss Simone—her bisexuality. She was attracted to and had relationships with men and women of every color. And so, we have on one side a classically trained woman who is very black (natural hair, full lips, dark skin), sexually open, and pro–black power, and on the other side a society that's rigidly patriarchal and racist. Few humans could survive these kinds of extremes without frequently suffering from mental disorders or collapses. And this, at the end of the day, is the point that is made by Amazing.

But there is one more thing I want to point out, and it concerns mental health and black Americans. Bland might have had mental-health problems, and when you consider the society she lived in, which is as racist and patriarchal as the one Nina Simone challenged, this is understandable. Bland might have had mental-health problems, and when you consider the society she lived in, which is as racist and patriarchal as the one Nina Simone challenged, this is understandable.

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Film Credits
Director
Jeff Lieberman
Cast