Greenwich Entertainment has acquired North American distribution rights to the documentary, “Billie,” written and directed by James Erskine. Chronicling the jazz singer, Billie Holiday, the film is produced by New Black Films and Reliance Entertainment Productions Documentary (REP). “Billie” had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival followed by a screening at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Greenwich will release the film in theaters across the country later this year.
“Billie” will feature never-before-heard interviews with those close to the singer, as well as some of Holiday’s performances restored in color.
Greenwich Entertainment distributed “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice,” “Citizen K,” and the upcoming “Incitement.”
Read more from the press release below.
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. Raw, emotional and brutally honest, Billie is filled with incredible, unheard testimonies from musical greats like Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Sylvia Syms and Count Basie.
“Documenting the life of an icon is a daunting task, but James rose to the occasion with a mesmerizing tribute that captures the talent and torment of the most influential jazz singer of all time,” said Greenwich’s Andy Bohn. “Audiences will swoon at the performance footage and be riveted by the intimate revelations in these previously unheard interviews.”
“Billie Holiday’s rare and dynamic voice speaks to us from across the American century, and yet the songs she sang and the urgency with which she sang them are as vital to contemporary audiences as when they were first performed,” said Erskine. “Billie’s story is more than a biography, but a study of the politics of cultural repression and it’s a thrill to be partnering with Greenwich in bringing Billie’s story – the highs and the lows – to the big screen in a new and immediate way.”
“The goal of the Estate is to ensure that the legacy and life of Billie Holiday is told honestly and authentically for the era and the time in which she lived,” said Michele Smith, VP, Estate and Legacy Brand Management, who oversees the Billie Holiday Estate. “Through Billie, we see her strength, her longing, her humanity and her undeniable talent and vocal ability.”
Producers Laure Vaysse and Deepak Nayar from REP Doc explained, “We feel very fortunate to be able to bring this extraordinary work to the screen and to be alongside the visionary producers at New Black Films. Billie’s extraordinary story and her raw talent and mystery came to life in the new material from Linda’s interviews when the project first came to our attention. The huge technical innovation involved here and the need to mine such a deep trove of archive and to sift different versions of Billie meant that the project was always set to be something powerfully creative and new. The resulting film is visceral and alive and brings us sharply into a world we didn’t know. It is this kind of documentary that REP is proud to represent and wants to bring to audiences worldwide.”