WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? directed by Liz Garbus (THE FARM: ANGOLA, USA) won the Audience Award for Best Feature at AFI DOCS 2015 in Washington, DC. This year’s Audience Award for Best Short went to A CONVERSATION WITH MY BLACK SON directed by Blair Foster (TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE, co-producer) and Geeta Gandbhir (BY THE PEOPLE: THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA, editor).
WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?
Nina Simone earned her moniker as the “High Priestess of Soul.” Trained as a classical pianist in North Carolina when racism was open and rampant, Simone drew upon her struggles as she became one of jazz music’s most beloved and complex figures. Director Liz Garbus offers access into Simone’s most intimate thoughts through her own words as the influential chanteuse became a leading voice for the civil rights movement of the late 1960s. Despite her enormous talent, however, Simone battled worsening demons that ultimately drove her into a life of seclusion in Liberia and France.
A CONVERSATION WITH MY BLACK SON
The short film features a group of racially diverse parents discussing the importance of having a conversation with their young black sons about racism and interacting with the police.
AFI DOCS attendees included America’s greatest documentary filmmakers, including Alex Gibney, Barbara Kopple, Stanley Nelson and Morgan Neville.
National leaders in attendance included White House Cabinet Secretary and Chair of MBK Task Force Broderick Johnson, U.S. Representative Steve Cohen, U.S. Representative Ted Lieu, civil rights leader Julian Bond, former U.S. Representative Mary Bono, Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and former Governor of West Virginia and President of the Alliance for Excellent Education Bob Wise.
Global leaders at AFI DOCS included the Ambassador of Kuwait H.E. Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Ambassador of Jordan Dr. Alia Hatoug Bouran, Ambassador of Lebanon Antoine Chedid and Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Anne Patterson.
Joining the opinion leaders were distinguished journalists: Executive Producer of PBS’s FRONTLINE Raney Aronson-Rath, Margaret Brennan of CBS News, The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons and Ta-Nehisi Coates, former ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson, Bloomberg View’s Al Hunt and PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff.