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jeff leiberman

Jeff L. Lieberman, Director of The Amazing Nina Simone documentary, has recently been in the news for his essay in The Hollywood Reporter questioning the accuracy of the new Nina Simone biopic.

Hear about Jeff’s background, how he came to create a film about Nina Simone and his reactions to the biopic.

(April 2016)






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Jeff and I had a beautiful conversation about his first film, Re-Emerging: the Jews of Nigeria. In that part of our discussion that isn’t included in this interview only because there wasn’t enough time to add everything, Jeff shared a strategy that he used as a new filmmaker.  I found it SUCH a smart idea that I wanted to share it with you here:


As a young filmmaker, I reached out to a lot of editors that I really respected and admired based on documentaries that I’d recently seen.  I said, “I’d love for you to work on this.  I have no budget but tell me what you think.”  One editor wrote back that it was impossible to take on unpaid or low paid work.  In response, I asked if she would consider looking at my cut and giving me feedback and then I’d pay for her time.  She said yes!


I knew how to push the buttons for editing but I needed someone else’s smarts to come in and say: this is not working, this is extraneous, this is boring, this is perfect, this should come earlier.  We went through the process about 3-4 times and I was so indebted to her.  She could look at my piece and give me all of this know-how that really made the film so much better.  Instead of paying for 100 hours of her time, I paid for 10, which was affordable and made the film possible.

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