Billie Holiday: the best films and documentaries on the jazz icon

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Billie (2020)

This unprecedented documentary crosses the tragic destinies of the jazz icon and the American journalist Linda Kuehl, passionate, even obsessed, by the singer with a troubled past. Kuehl has spent years collecting over 200 hours of audio testimonials from Lady’s Dayfamily and friends to write a biography, a biography that was never published because Kuehl mysteriously died before it was over. British director James erskine found these recordings in a collector’s house and built his documentary around these treasures that depict a Billie Vacation, between shadow and light, disturbing at the time, for her diva whims but above all for her stance against racism and the treatment of blacks in the United States. His chilling song Strange Fruit, which we rediscover in a colorized performance, embodies his courageous fight to denounce the execution, in silence, of this minority.

Billie

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

DVD / BRD and Prestige Edition, 14.99 euros, available on Amazon

United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)

It is one of the most dazzling performances of this year: that of Andra Day playing Billie Vacation in Lee daniels‘ new movie, the United States vs. Billie Holiday. And although it’s hard to believe, this is the first major role of his career, which has already won a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. The film portrays Holiday’s struggle with her addictions, acquired as a result of abuse inflicted by her companions throughout her life, coupled with the tender, albeit imaginary, relationship she forges with Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes), an undercover FBN agent tasked with monitoring her.

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