Director Lee Daniels has described his new movie, The United Staves vs. Billie Holiday, as a ‘call to arms’ as he pays homage to the iconic jazz musician.
Starring singer Andra Day in the lead role, the movie focuses on the life of the legendary singer during the time when the federal government deliberately targeted her in an attempt to stop her music from inspiring the civil rights moment.
Billie famously refused to back down when the government tried to force her to quit performing her iconic ballad Strange Fruit – a song denouncing the lynching of black people, and Daniels revealed the fighting spirit of ‘the early godmother of the civil right’s movement’ is why he chose to make the flick.
The celebrated director explained that while his previous flick The Butler was about ‘hope’, he felt Billie’s story was more of a ‘call to arms’.
The Precious director explained: ‘We are at that place right now. America is at that place right now. And I could feel it. It’s a timely movie. But it was timely 10 years ago, and it’ll be timely 20 years from now based on what we just saw at Capitol.’
The filmmaker stated that he tried to express ‘the world I’m living in right now’ while also paying homage to the legendary jazz singer.
Lee Daniels says The United States vs. Billie Holiday is about ‘America’s experience’ as first trailer drops (Picture: Getty)
Daniels insisted the film is ‘not a biopic’ but is focused on a ‘slice of time’ in which Holiday was fighting for freedom.
He added: ‘It comes from my heart, it comes from black America’s heart.
The film tells the story of legendary jazz icon Billie Holiday’s fight to perform her song Strange Fruits in the 1940s (Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
‘It comes from my experience, my grandmother’s experience, my great grandmother’s experience, Billie Holiday’s experience and my daughter’s experience. It’s America’s experience.’
Screenplay writer Suzan-Lori Parks, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, penned the script based on the chapter The Black Hand from Johann Mari’s 2015 bestselling book, Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.
The film stars Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes, Dolemite Is My Name star Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Orange Is the New Black’s Natasha Lyonne, Mudbound star Garrett Hedlund and Evan Ross.
The United States VS. Billie Holiday lands on Hulu on February 26, while it will be available in the UK later this year.