VENICE (Reuters) - Film maker Amy Berg says she felt that the late blues-and-rock singer Janis Joplin “guided” her in making the documentary “Janis”, which contains footage never seen before of the troubled teen from Texas who rose to world fame.
The film, shown out of competition at the Venice Film Festival, follows Joplin, who is portrayed as being an outsider while growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, through her meteoric rise as the lead singer of the San Francisco-based Big Brother and the Holding Company, to her death at age 27 from a heroin overdose in October, 1970.
“There were many times when I wanted to do something a little bit more creative that wasn’t guided by the archive, by what exists, and it backfired every single time,” Berg told a news conference on Sunday.
“I feel like Janis guided me through this edit. Her voice really guided me through it.”
Unlike the recent documentary “Amy” about the late British soul singer Amy Winehouse, which made extensive use of personal videos, Berg had to rely largely on archive materials to reconstruct Joplin’s life.
Despite that, she said there are moments in the film that even ardent Joplin fans would not have seen or heard.
“There is 12 minutes of new footage and audio. It was challenging,” the American filmmaker said.
“There are people who have just little remnants of being on tour with her, like there is this great reaction to her Royal Albert Hall gig in London and she did speak to David Dalton from Rolling Stone (magazine) often when they were on the road.
“We have excerpts from that throughout the film and there is some footage that somebody uncovered, and beautiful silent footage that we used.”
Reporting by Hanna Rantala; Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Mark Trevelyan