What Happened, Miss Simone?

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Liz Garbus
Distributed by Netflix
Release dates
  • January 22, 2015 (2015-01-22)


  • June 26, 2015 (2015-06-26)


Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English

What Happened, Miss Simone? is a 2015 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. 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.[2]


Garbus was approached with the idea and rights for the film by RadicalMedia.[3] Nina's daughter Lisa Simone Kelly served as the film's executive producer.[4]


Indiewire gave the film a B grade.[5] 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."[6] On December 1st, the film was selected as one of 15 shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[7] The movie was nominated on January 14, 2016 for a 2016 Academy Award for Best Documentary – Feature.[8]

The film was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special and Outstanding Directing for a Nonfiction Program,[9] winning the former.


  1. "John Legend performs Nina Simone tribute at Sundance". 23 January 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  2. Cohen, Sandy. "Nina Simone documentary a powerful portrait of the artist". msn.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  3. Berger, Laura. "Sundance Women Directors: Meet Liz Garbus - 'What Happened, Miss Simone?'". Indiewire.com. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  4. Swann, Jennifer. "One Icon, Two Movies: Can Hollywood Do Right by Nina Simone?". TakePart. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  5. Jhaveri, Anisha. "Sundance Review: 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' Puts Nina Simone's Legacy in the Spotlight". Indiewire.com. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  6. Hogan, Michael. "Prepare to be Amazed All Over Again by the Gloriously Singular Nina Simone". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  7. "15 DOCUMENTARY FEATURES ADVANCE IN 2015 OSCAR® RACE". December 1, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  8. "Oscars 2016 Nominations: Complete List of Nominees". Eonline. January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  9. "68th Emmy Awards Nominations For Programs Airing June 1, 2015 – May 31, 2016" (PDF). The Television Academy. July 14, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
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