Billie trailer: A documentary showcasing the magic of Billie Holiday in vivid colour

Some people are easily lost in the ‘other-worldliness’ of black-and-white imagery, while others find the distance between then and now a hard divide to cross. Billie lends a helping hand in that regard, bringing modern day audiences closer to the reality of the legendary Billie Holiday, with a number of her performances beautifully colourised for this new documentary. It also features previously unheard interviews with the likes of Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Sylvia Syms and Charly Mingus who talk about the enigmatic jazz singer and her troubled life on and off-stage. She was a singer who laid the groundwork for countless others to follow, Lady Day setting the stage for the likes of Frank Sinatra through to Beyoncé. Watch the Billie trailer above.

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Billie Holiday had one of the greatest voices of all time. She was a woman of breath-taking talent and global popularity while also stirring controversy. She started a notable rebellion singing “Strange Fruit” which exposed the realities of Black life in America and earned her powerful enemies. Then in the late 1960s journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl set out to write the definitive biography of Billie. Over the next decade, she tracked down and tape-recorded interviews with the extraordinary characters that populated the iconic singer’s short, tumultuous life. These incredibly intimate testimonies are not only told by some of the musical greats, but Billie Holiday herself is revealed through the eyes of her cousin, her school friends, lovers, lawyers, pimps and even the FBI agents who arrested her. Linda’s book was never finished and the tapes unplayed – until now. With unprecedented and exclusive access to Linda’s astonishing 200 hours of never-before-heard interviews, Billie showcases an American legend, capturing her depths and complexity through the voices of those who knew her best. Painstakingly restored with footage and stills colourised by one of the leading colour artists, it is an arresting and powerful tale of one of the greatest singers who ever lived, and of Linda Lipnack Kuehl, the woman who would sacrifice her life in trying to tell it.

James Erskine (The Ice King) directs, with Billie scheduled to arrive in physical and virtual cinemas from November 13.

Steven Sheehan

Updated: Nov 02, 2020

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Billie trailer: A documentary showcasing the magic of Billie Holiday in vivid colour | The Digital Fix