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Interview with ‘Janis: Little Girl Blue’ Director, Amy Berg

February 4, 2016

We had the pleasure of seeing Janis: Little Girl Blue last year at the UK premier at the BFI London Film Festival.  An incredible, respectful and beautiful piece of film making about a truly remarkable talent.

Janis: Little Girl Blue opens in UK cinemas from Friday 05/06/16.

It is quite a challenge to sum up in an hour and 40 minutes a life and career as dazzling as Janis Joplin’s. While over time, an idyllic picture may have anchored in the collective unconscious (that of a spokesman of Hippie culture and its excesses), the film reveals the Janis behind Joplin. Beyond those songs and messages, actually hid a vulnerable woman who, thanks to her artistic vision, contributed to the progress of ideas that are still relevant today. Janis: Little Girl Blue opens the gates of the intimate and the sublime life of Joplin, captured by the precise and tender eye of Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg.

Legacy Recordings: How did the idea of this documentary come about?
Amy Berg: Janis Joplin’s estate had decided to open up their archives so they met with several directors in early 2008. I was very keen on the idea. I created a trailer with footage I found on Youtube to show what the documentary could look like and how I would tell the story. They liked my work, so we started working together.

LR: How did her notes and letters help inform and tell the story?
AB: There are ultimately two Janis’s: the woman who sang and cried on stage, the one you can see in archive footage… But there’s also this shy and introvert young lady, and it was hard work trying to find a balance between the two… But in the end, those more quiet moments have become the best ones in the film. Thanks to those letters, we could show what it was like to be at her side, at home, when she would be writing to her parents. It helps understand what she went through: suddenly you can see her vulnerable and fragile side.

LR: Do you think Janis Joplin was misunderstood?
AB: I do. People were not ready to hear her. She was definitely ahead of her time in many ways. She spoke of equality and civil rights for all. She did not understand why black and white people had to live separately. People in the South of the US did not want to hear about all this. They wanted to live according to their own principles and Janis rebelled against it. On top of this, she was not perceived as a pretty girl. All this induced a lot of sadness and a certain malaise in her. Today’s society has improved immensely in terms of civil right, but police brutality and racism still pertain for example.

LR: The film also shows a fragile and sensitive Janis…
AB: Yes! I sometimes wonder how she would have lived or survived in our time. We are surrounded by social networks and all these images of a world where girls have to be slim and beautiful. Janis spent her life trying to get people’s attention in a totally different way…

Janis-quad-Web

LR: Janis had a lot to convey through her work. Do you think musicians have forgotten the importance of conveying ideas and messages in their songs?
AB: Artists have the opportunity to talk about issues that affect the world. It’s a noble thing to do. I love that artists try to talk to their fans about issues that is close to their hearts.

LR: How would you describe Janis in three words?
AB: Vulnerable, honest and bruised.

Interview by our friends at Legacy France http://www.legacyrecordings.fr/

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