The release of the controversial Nina Simone biopic, Nina, is right around the corner and now that the backlash has died down a little the people behind the film have decided to explain what exactly went wrong.
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In an interview with BuzzFeed, writer-director Cynthia Mort explains that there were a number of factors that led to Nina‘s downfall. Everything from casting issues and plot disagreements to lawsuits and the people behind the film not fully understanding the importance of race in telling Nina Simone’s story.
Mort told BuzzFeed’s Kate Aurthur, “I understand the issue of race. And color is a sensitive issue. But at the same time, it is a movie. And it is an actor. And everyone is doing their best to find the truth in that.” A statement that’s somewhat hard to believe. If you understand the issue of race, then you’d understand why putting a light-skinned black woman in black face would be an issue. Barnaby Thompson, one of the films producers, and Mort never really saw eye-to-eye on the casting with Mort telling Barnaby to “put the looks aside,” adding that Saldana was cast primarily because of bankability and Hollywood’s short list of black actresses.
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There was also the issue of the film’s plot, which revolves around Clifton Henderson’s relationship with Nina Simone. Henderson was gay in real life, but was rewritten to become a love interest in the film, something Aaron Overfield, a representative of Nina’s estate, and Nina’s daughter, Simone Kelly, did not agree with.
The interview is an interesting look at how what could have and should have been a great film went completely wrong.
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