Billie Holiday documentary set for UK cinema release

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BILLIE, THE documentary, about the iconic jazz singer, will be released in UK cinemas next month, following its screening at the London Jazz Festival.

The film, which premiered earlier this year to positive reviews at Telluride Film Festival and screened at Deauville will be available to watch in select UK cinemas nationwide from Friday 13 November. 

Billie is a thought-provoking and potent documentary that offers a fascinating insight into one of the greatest jazz singers through extraordinary never-before-heard interviews sourced from around 200 hours of audio recordings by journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl. The tapes feature intimate conversations about Holiday with fellow legends Tony Bennett, Charles Mingus, Sylvia Syms and Count Basie, as well as her high school friends, lovers, and those closest to her. 

Directed by James Erskine, Billie explores the tumultuous life, career and spirit of the iconic Billie Holiday. The documentary showcases the depth and complexities of Holiday’s character and artistry in the face of adversity. It shines a spotlight on gender inequality, racism, social injustice and her abiding cultural and musical impact.

The film release marks the first time Holiday’s remarkable life has been portrayed in colour, and features the colourisation of her 1939 classic protest song, Strange Fruit.

Erskine said: “What was essential to me was to make sure there was enough room in the film to sit back and admire her power, her genius, and also to ensure the audience grasped that Billie’s story was told through the songs she sang. Taking the narrative of Billie, blending it with a coherent music structure and then tracing out her life and her changing image was the essence of the film.”


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