Tina Turner reflects on her incredible life and career in new documentary film, Tina (Picture: Altitude Film Entertainment / Sky)
Tina is the new documentary film that sees Tina Turner recount her incredible story for what seems to be the final time.
For Oscar-winning directors, Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin, the clear angle to explore was the fact being one of the industry’s most famous survivors of an abusive relationship has actually been a constant source of pain for the iconic singer.
After decades of the world mistaking the 81-year-old’s career success as a sign of freedom from her trauma at the hands of ex-husband Ike Turner, the HBO/Sky TV project explores how the public’s obsession with her story actually weighed down on The Best singer.
Martin explained how the pair discovered just how traumatizing it can be for the rock legend to rehash the details of her abuse.
He explained: ‘In early conversations with her, without us even bringing up Ike, he would come up in conversation naturally. She revealed how difficult it is to still talk about that time, to the point where if she’s talking about it or thinking about him, he kind of comes back in her dreams. As her husband [Erwin Bach] points out, it’s like a soldier going back to war. It’s a form of PTSD.
‘We learned that she, at eighty years old, really was still processing that trauma. That really formed the point of view of the film and help us to try to create two main characters – Tina, but also the story of Tina. We look at the relationship that Tina has with that story.’
The singer is candid about the fact her past relationship with abusive husband Ike Turner is something she doesn’t enjoy speaking about (Picture: Altitude Film Entertainment / Sky)
Martin added: ‘Hopefully, a takeaway at the end is that you do get a truer sense of Tina. Despite all the different iterations of her telling her stories that we’ve had, that’s the one thing we don’t usually get. How does she actually feel about the narrative that’s been cemented in the public?’
The documentary features interviews with the likes of her I, Tina memoir collaborator Kurt Loder and People magazine journalist Carl Arrington – who wrote the first piece revealing Tina’s abusive relationship in 1981.
As well as speaking to the men, Martin and Lindsay also had access to the audiotapes full of Tina’s own recounting of events that took place during her relationship with Ike.
Directors Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin had to find the balance when talking to Tina (and her husband Erwin Bach) so the singer wouldn’t be triggering by her traumatic memories (Picture: Altitude Film Entertainment / Sky)
Lindsay explained how the pair made use of archives clips and audio to avoid traumatizing Tina further by making her relive the abuse she suffered.
He explained: ‘At one point, we’re thought we would just tell the story of Tina Turner through what we called the “Years in the wilderness”. The six or seven years from leaving Ike to before What’s Love Got To Do With It?
‘But once we learned what it meant for her to talk about that stuff – just us as human beings – we wanted to make sure we weren’t doing something hurtful.’
The documentary also looks at the star’s determination to push through the hurdles that came her way (Picture: Altitude Film Entertainment / Sky)
Lindsay continued: ‘We realized we had access to these materials where she goes into very rich detail about some of this trauma. So we don’t need her to recount the first time that lke hit her, we never asked her any questions like that.
‘But we made it clear to her that we did have to talk about that time, and also how she reflects on that time now. More than anything, we were protective of her but knew that we had to do our job. It was all about finding the balance, I guess.’
For the Undefeated filmmakers, it was important to remind viewers that praising survivors is important, but not at the expense of their healing.
Tina may well be the last time we see the singer talk about her life on camera (Picture: Backgrid)
Thanks to her strong persona and energetic performances, fans often see the star as superhuman however the documentary makes it clear that constantly being made to relive her time with Ike took its toll on the singer.
Lindsay explained: ‘That conflict and contradiction is exactly what we wanted to lean in. It was very interesting to us from the beginning, this idea that because society has held her up as a symbol of strength and resilience, we assume that she is just a superhuman, but she’s not.
‘We were interested in the paradox at play because Tina telling her story still brings a ton of value to our society, right? It shines a light on certain things that makes other survivors know they’re not alone. But yet, we do often fail to think about what effect it has on the people.’
Martin added: ‘Tina and Erwin were very involved in the film and during the making, Tina said she wanted to watch it. Erwin saw it first to look out for the potential emotional pitfalls. Then Tina got an opportunity to watch it and she wanted to reach out to us immediately.
‘The report back was that she was beaming. She really felt that it was an accurate, honest portrayal of her life. I think it really fun for her to watch some of the old performances.
‘What really resonates with us is that she said it was actually easier to watch and she had thought going into it. That could be an extension of what the film is exploring, the process of really coming to accept your narrative.’
Tina hits HBO on March 27 in the US, while it is available to watch the next day on SKy Documentaries and NOW TV in the UK.