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Directed by Jeff Lieberman

United States 2015 118 mins.

Nina Simone (1933-2003) defied labels—musical, sexual, or political—and today enjoys a popularity and recognition never realized in her lifetime. Lieberman’s extensively researched film draws upon interviews with dozens of friends, family members, band members, lovers, and fellow activists, who not only recall her astounding musicianship and genius, but her fearless demand for respect–whether from segregationists, record companies, or audiences. Director Lieberman follows Simone through the ups and downs of her career: growing up in a small, segregated town, becoming a teen classical piano prodigy, gaining experience as a bar singer, rising to stardom in the late 1950s with “I Loves You, Porgy,” and, finally, emerging as a fiery activist through songs such as “Mississippi Goddam”–all while struggling with a complicated bisexual love life and battling bipolar disorder. Simone’s story, like her music, is startlingly unique.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.