Best Movies by Farr
What Happened, Miss Simone? Poster
Released Runtime Category
2015 101 Documentary
Director Language
Liz Garbus English
Lisa Simone Kelly, Nina Simone, Andrew Stroud, Al Schackman, Stanley Crouch

What Happened, Miss Simone?

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What's it About

A young girl from Jim Crow-era North Carolina dreams about becoming the first black concert pianist, but instead grows up to be iconic jazz/soul singer Nina Simone. Starting in seedy clubs in Atlantic City, Simone went on to play the Newport and Montreux Jazz Festivals, where she was lauded for her distinctive voice and musical style. In the 1960s, Simone’s art became enmeshed with activism, as she embraced the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. But increasingly her inner demons undermined her happiness and success.

Why we love it

Sourcing hours of archival footage, and using Simone’s own handwritten journals, Garbus lets the performer tell her own story in her own words, and lets the power of her music soar. Simone’s daughter Lisa provides personal testimony and speaks candidly about a mother struggling with identity: as a wife, celebrity and black activist. Simone’s evolution to a woman with a strong, political voice is mapped through stunning performances and interviews in this Oscar-nominated illumination of musical genius and personal struggle.

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"