A new film directed by Lee Daniels will portray the “complicated, irrepressible life” of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday.
Starring Grammy-nominated R&B singer Andra Day in the titular role, The United States vs. Billie Holiday also features Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund, Miss Lawrence, and more.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday focuses its attention on the singer’s efforts to avoid the U.S. government, who targeted and arrested her in the 1940s as they sought to escalate and racialize America’s war on drugs. The federal government leads an investigation into Holiday’s drug use; meanwhile, she fights to publicly sing her then controversial and now famous civil rights song, Strange Fruit.
Watch the trailer below.
The screenplay was written by Suzan-Lori Parks, based on the book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari.
Production began in the fall of 2019 in Montreal.
The film will be released Feb. 26 on the Hulu streaming platform in the United States. There’s no word yet on when the movie will be available to watch in Canada.
“Whether you are new to the story and legacy of Billie Holiday or know every note she ever sang, I do hope our celebration of this complex woman does justice to a great musical legend and civil rights activist whose artistry resonates as well today as it did 80 years ago,” Daniels said in a news release. “Hulu releasing this film and giving it a platform to be seen nationwide is a blessing, because as recent events reveal, our country has much work to do in fulfilling its promise of a more perfect union.”
Daniels’ previous films include Precious (2009) and The Butler (2013).
The film follows in the footsteps of Lady Sings the Blues, the 1972 biopic about Billie Holiday starring Diana Ross.