BILLIE

What if the most important story in your life was not your own?

BILLIE HOLIDAY, one of the greatest voices of all time, a woman of breath-taking talent and global

popularity, was throughout her short life a figure of controversy - a black woman in a white man’s world, a victim, a pioneer and a rebel whose iconic protest song  Strange Fruit, earned her powerful enemies.

In the late 1960s, journalist Linda Lipnack Kuehl set out to write the definitive biography of Holiday’s life.

Over the next decade, she tracked down and tape-recorded interviews with those who knew Holiday best. Raw, emotional and brutally honest, these incredible testimonies ranged from musical greats like Charles Mingus, Tony Bennett, Sylvia Syms and Count Basie to Holiday’s cousin, school friends, lovers, lawyers, pimps and even the FBI agents who arrested her. But Kuehl’s book was never finished and the tapes unheard – until now.

With unprecedented and exclusive access to Kuehl’s astonishing 200 hours of never-before-heard

interviews, and presented in vivid colour for the first time, BILLIE is an arresting and powerful tale of one of the greatest singers who ever lived, and of the woman who would sacrifice her life in the pursuit of writing it.

MAIDEN 

Once upon a time (in 1989), Tracy Edwards, a 23-year-old ship’s cook, had a dream – to pilot the first all women’s crew in the world’s toughest yacht race. Over nine months, she and her team documented their lives at sea in their singular battle for equality. Thirty years on, with exclusive access to this remarkable on-board footage, New Black Films tell the incredible, epic story of the Maiden voyage.

In a chauvinistic world, her idea was met with almost universal hostility: the crew were told they 

wouldn’t have the physical strength or the mental toughness; sponsors repeatedly turned her down on the basis it might kill their brand if they ended up with “female blood on their hands”.

Cut together with an epic ’80’s soundtrack, this feature documentary will explore how, against all odds, the crew of the Maiden managed to not only stay in the race but beat the boys at their own game – winning the two toughest stages and coming second overall.

THE ICE KING

The greatest skater of all time, John Curry transforms a dated sport into an exalted art form. Coming out on the night of his Olympic win in 1976, he becomes first openly gay Olympian in a time when homosexuality is not even fully legal. Toxic yet charming; rebellious yet elitist; emotionally aloof yet spectacularly needy; ferociously ambitious yet bent on self-destruction, this is a man forever on the run: from his father’s ghost, his country, and even his own self. Above all, he is an artist and an athlete whose body time and time again – sometimes against his will – becomes a political battlefield.

It is difficult to capture in words the true beauty of Curry’s form as it glides across the glassy surface, both perfectly controlled and bursting with emotion. The extensive archive footage of his performances will take centre stage, their eclectic musical accompaniment soundtracking the film.

From bullying at home, through prejudice at work and relief in the 1970s gay underworld, to his untimely death of AIDS, Curry’s story dovetails with the experiences of a generation of gay men. Based on Bill Jones’ acclaimed biography (Alone: The Triumph and Tragedy of John Curry) with unparalleled access to his letters and exclusive access to hours of unheard audio interviews with his skaters, family, and friends, this feature documentary will tell not only Curry’s story, but the story of a generation’s struggle for freedom and acceptance.

THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES

A look at the events leading up to the 1973 ‘Battle of the Sexes’ tennis match between retired men’s champ Bobby Riggs and the current women’s Wimbledon winner Billie Jean King.

It was a match made in heaven: she was the darling of American tennis, an outspoken activist against sexism in sport and society; he was the charismatic, fast-talking, hustling, chauvinist showman. Their unlikely ‘courtship’, in the midst of a social revolution, captured the imaginations of people around the world, empowered a generation, and changed sport forever.

© 2020 By New Black Films