From a 1934 talent contest at the Apollo theatre in Harlem, the film follows her extraordinary journey across five decades as she reflects the passions and troubles of her times in her music and her life. Moving beyond conventional biopic, the film uses images and music to evoke the feel of those times so as to bring to life the context of Ella Fitzgerald’s unique career.
The film reveals an Ella the world never knew – thoughtful, tough, funny, a bold musical innovator engaged in the issues of her times and committed to struggles for civil rights. But we will also explore the conflicts that haunted her to the end: the passion for singing, the hunger for adoring audiences that drove her on a programme of endless touring with her beloved musicians – pitched in an unresolvable struggle with her longing for a settled relationship and a domestic life with her adopted son. It was a struggle that left her, as her favourite pianist Oscar Peterson said “the loneliest woman in the world”.
Featuring interviews with amongst others Andre Previn, Cleo Laine, Izsak Perlman, Jamie Cullum, Jim Blackman, Johnny Mathis, Norma Miller, Margaret Nutt, Margo Jefferson, Max Bennett, Norma Miller, Patti Austin, Ray Brown Jr, Richard and Rossman, Smokey Robinson, Tad Hershorn, Tony Bennett, and Will Friedwal
This screening will be introduced by director Leslie Woodhead