*Criticism over the upcoming Nina Simone biopic continues to pour in as the director of a documentary based on the singer’s life points out how “ugly and inaccurate” the Zoe Saldana-starring “Nina” is.
In an guest column on The Hollywood Reporter, Jeff Lieberman, who helmed “The Amazing Nina Simone,” slammed the biopic’s distributor, Robert Johnson for defending a movie he knows is anything but truthful.
“Robert Johnson’s defense of his film Nina was not only insulting, it was 100 percent wrong,” Lieberman wrote in a guest column. “I am saddened by the ugly and inaccurate portrayal contained in the script and trailer of Nina and by Mr. Johnson’s desperate attempt to defend the project. Since Mr. Johnson is a Black man who lived through the 1960s, I am surprised he does not know what Nina Simone stood for, both for herself and for the hundreds of thousands of people she inspired along the way.”
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Taking note of Saldana’s controversial casting as Simon, Lieberman stated that the decision to put Saldana in the role is only half the problem. In his eyes, the overarching issue is the main focus of “Nina” being one of the lowest points in Simone’s life instead of her incredible career.
“The 1970s and 1980s were sadder times for Ms. Simone, and the 1990s perhaps the bleakest,” Lieberman wrote. “I had the opportunity to read the script for Nina four years ago, and it chose to focus on the 1990s…. The trailer for Nina reveals Ms. Saldana as Nina brandishing a gun, being strapped down in a hospital and throwing champagne bottles. Where there wasn’t truth, they invented it — turning Ms. Simone’s assistant, Clifton Henderson (played by David Oyelowo), into a love interest, despite the fact that he was an out gay man.”
As the column went on, Lieberman pointed out more inaccuracies he sees in “Nina.” To read Lieberman’s Hollywood Reporter column in its entirety, click here.