Notice to jazz lovers and neophytes, the documentary “Billie” is not a classic doc that looks back on the chaotic life of the great Billie Holiday. It is also the story of a journalist who dedicated her life to him.
What is it about ?
BILLIE HOLIDAY is one of the greatest voices of all time. She was the first icon of the protest against racism which earned her powerful enemies.
At the end of the 1960s, journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl began an official biography of the artist. She collects 200 hours of incredible testimony: Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Sylvia Syms, Count Basie, her lovers, her lawyers, her pimps and even the FBI agents who arrested her … But Linda’s book didn’t never been completed and the tapes have remained unseen … until now.
BILLIE is the story of the singer who changed the face of American music and the journalist who died trying to tell the story of Lady as she was.
Billie, Written and Directed by James Erskine
Saturday June 19 at 11:20 p.m. on OCS City and available on OCS Go
Who is it with?
The one we also nicknamed Lady Day is of course everywhere in this documentary. Video clips of her filmed performances, audio clips of radio interviews and photographs bring this intrepid woman who burned her life at both ends to life.
Linda Kuehl, the reporter who has collected hundreds of hours of audio recording for the biography of Billie Holiday, is also ubiquitous but only through the voice and testimony of her sister, Myra.
The director, James Erskine, also takes the opportunity to summon Billie’s childhood friends, her musicians, her lovers and some essential jazz figures such as Count Basie or Sarah Vaughan.
Well worth a look ?
Icon of jazz and the fight against segregation with “Strange Fruit“- this monument song that denounces the lynchings in the United States – Billie Holiday continues to haunt the world of music even today. Her heartbreaking voice, her look sometimes mischievous, sometimes imbued with a deep sadness, her way of living on stage… everything is a source of wonder in this woman and in this film.
Billie traces the erratic journey of an extraordinary personality who has lived it all. The worst and the best: raped child, occasional prostitute, cameo and happy to be it, passionate lover who collected lovers and lovers and of course exceptional artist who changed the history of jazz and music in general …
She wore diamonds and minks and was in prison, following persecution by the FBI. This roller coaster life fascinated Linda Kuehl, who developed an affection for the singer from her teenage years. Kuehl is one of those true admirers who do not see Lady Day as a victim but as a proactive woman who refused any fatalism in her condition as a black woman.
“Billie Holiday’s voice was an instrument”
The two women have nothing in common, but Erskine highlights the invisible bond that unites them. Billieis also the story of Linda’s tragic fate. In February 1978, when she had collected 200 hours of testimonies on the life of Billie Holiday and still postpones the release of this biography which she wanted to be the truest exhaustive possible, Linda Kuel died.
Defenestrated, his death raises questions. Was it an accident, a suicide or a crime? The Washington police, known at the time to be the capital of crime, botched the investigation and concluded suicide but a doubt remains. Myra, Linda’s sister, does not accept this conclusion. When James Erskine stumbles across a collector’s house about Linda’s unfinished work, he decides to do it justice with Myra’s help.
What emerges is a gripping and disturbing film about a woman damaged by life, whose inner tear that is reflected through her voice continues to overwhelm thousands of souls around the world. It is a double tragic fate of two voices, extinguished too soon.