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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.