What Happened, Miss Simone?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLiz Garbus
Distributed byNetflix
Release dates
  • January 22, 2015 (2015-01-22) (Sundance)
  • June 26, 2015 (2015-06-26) (Netflix)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States

What Happened, Miss Simone? is a 2015 American biographical documentary film about Nina Simone directed by Liz Garbus. The film opened the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The screening was followed by a tribute performance by John Legend.[1] The film was released by Netflix on June 26, 2015. It was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 88th Academy Awards.[2][3]


The documentary chronicles the life of American singer Nina Simone, who became a civil rights activist and moved to Liberia following the turbulence of the 1960s.[4] The documentary combines previously unreleased archival footage and interviews with Simone's daughter and friends. The title of the film was taken from a Maya Angelou quote.[5]


Garbus was approached with the idea and rights for the film by RadicalMedia.[6] Nina's daughter Lisa Simone Kelly served as the film's executive producer along with Sidney Beaumont, Adam Del Deo, and Jon Kamen.[7]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 90% based on 51 reviews, with an average rating of 7.90/10. The website's critical consensus states, "What Happened, Miss Simone? is a compelling -- albeit necessarily incomplete -- overview of its complex subject's singular artistic legacy and fascinating life".[8] On Metacritic it has a score of 75 out of 100 based on reviews from 12 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[9]

Indiewire gave the film a B grade.[10] Michael Hogan wrote for Vanity Fair that, "The risk of making a documentary of a towering artist is that, by explaining her, you only end up diminishing her. Not Nina Simone—not this time. In Liz Garbus's telling, Simone's talent and personality shine through, as gloriously singular, and uncontrollable, as ever."[11]

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times cited the film's relevance, calling it an "often electric, bracingly urgent documentary."[4]


The film was selected as one of 15 shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[12] It eventually received a nomination.[13]

The film was nominated for the aforementioned Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, but also six Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special and Outstanding Directing for a Nonfiction Program,[14] winning the former. The film was also awarded a 2015 Peabody Award,[15] presented at the 2016 award ceremony.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "John Legend performs Nina Simone tribute at Sundance". CBS News. January 23, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  2. ^ "Amy" winning Best Documentary Feature-Oscars on YouTube
  3. ^ 2016|Oscars.org
  4. ^ a b Dargis, Manohla (June 23, 2015). "Review: 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' Documents Nina Simone's Rise as Singer and Activist". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  5. ^ 'What Happened, Miss Simone?: How Nina Simone's Activism Defined the Civil-Rights Era - The Atlantic
  6. ^ Berger, Laura. "Sundance Women Directors: Meet Liz Garbus – 'What Happened, Miss Simone?'". Indiewire. Archived from the original on January 24, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  7. ^ Swann, Jennifer. "One Icon, Two Movies: Can Hollywood Do Right by Nina Simone?". TakePart. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  8. ^ "What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 25, 2022.
  9. ^ "What Happened, Miss Simone?". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  10. ^ Jhaveri, Anisha (24 January 2015). "Sundance Review: 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' Puts Nina Simone's Legacy in the Spotlight". Indiewire.com. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  11. ^ Hogan, Michael (23 January 2015). "Prepare to be Amazed All Over Again by the Gloriously Singular Nina Simone". Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  12. ^ "15 DOCUMENTARY FEATURES ADVANCE IN 2015 OSCAR® RACE". December 1, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  13. ^ "Oscars 2016 Nominations: Complete List of Nominees". E! Online. January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  14. ^ "68th Emmy Awards Nominations For Programs Airing June 1, 2015 – May 31, 2016" (PDF). Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. July 14, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  15. ^ "The Peabody 30 - Complete Winner's List". 3 May 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2020.

External links[edit]