DOC NYC 2015 Women Directors: Meet Amy Berg – ‘Janis: Little Girl Blue’

Janis: Little Girl BlueAmy Berg is a critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a DGA Award (Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary) for her 2006 documentary "Deliver Us from Evil." She went on to direct "West of Memphis," a documentary about the failure of the justice system in the West Memphis Three case. She worked in collaboration with producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. The film premiered to rave reviews at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was BAFTA-nominated and won the WGA Documentary Screenplay Award. Sony Pictures Classics released the film in Fall 2012.

"Every Secret Thing," Berg’s first narrative feature, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014 and was released theatrically in May 2015. Her doc "Prophet’s Prey," which was made in association with Showtime and Imagine Entertainment, will open in theaters this fall. Berg’s company, Disarming Films, writes and produces long-form documentaries focusing on social justice. (Press materials) 

"Janis: Little Girl Blue" will premiere at the 2015 DOC NYC Film Festival on November 15.

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

AB: "Janis: Little Girl Blue" is the story of the First Lady of Rock: Janis Joplin. She is a powerhouse on stage and a sweet, vulnerable and shy woman seeking validation off stage. Her story is told through her best performances and letters written to her loved ones.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

AB: I love Janis! I was drawn to the story when I heard there was material available. I have been working on the film for almost eight years.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

AB: Getting all the rights! 

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

AB: I want people to think about how much Janis has influenced them personally and women in general. I want them to have a greater understanding of Janis, as she is so much more than a woman who drank Southern Comfort and died of an overdose.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

AB: Go for it! Do it your way and don’t stop. You are unstoppable if you believe it.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

AB: It was a miracle and we relied on foreign sales, Sony Legacy and a broadcast deal. We have sold most territories internationally.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

AB: Right now, I’m feeling a lot of Laurie Anderson’s work, so [I’ll say] "Home of the Brave."