Music legend Tina Turner is the subject of one of the most successful biopics ever made but she tells the makers of a new documentary there's much more to her story.
Tina by Oscar-winning directors Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin premiered Tuesday at the Berlin film festival. It traces Turner's six-decade career as an unlikely triumph over abuse and discrimination.
Paired with the musical about her that had its Broadway premiere in 2019 until the pandemic shut it down, the film is billed as the 81-year-old Turner's farewell to her legions of fans.
The documentary includes emotional interviews with the singer in which she recounts her childhood of grinding poverty picking cotton in the Tennessee fields, her singing debut with violent husband Ike Turner, and her lonely years even as the world's top female rock star.
Friends weigh in including Oprah Winfrey, I, Tina biographer Kurt Loder and Angela Bassett, who was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Turner in the 1993 blockbuster What's Love Got to Do with It.
Turner was famously critical of the movie, refusing to watch it for several years and rejecting her depiction as a "victim" in it.
In the documentary, she explains that the reason she decided to come forward in the 1980s about her years of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by Ike was that even after the split, interviewers insisted on asking her about their partnership.
The documentary also spotlights the obstacles Turner had to surmount to become a stadium-filling sex symbol as a Black middle-aged woman. It includes a shocking interview in which a record company executive is quoted using racist and misogynistic slurs to explain why he wanted to drop her from the label in the early 1980s.
"I had a dream: my dream is to be the first Black rock'n'roll singer to pack places like the (Rolling) Stones," she said.
Given the rigid race-linked radio categories of pop and R&B in America, Turner and her Australian manager Roger Davies decided she should relaunch her career from Europe.
Turner got the last laugh with her 1984 album, Private Dancer, which sold millions of copies worldwide and included her first major solo single "What's Love Got to Do with It," a song she says she "hated" at first until she "made it my own."
Tina is screening out of competition at the 71st Berlin film festival, which runs until Friday.
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