Janis: Little Girl Blue

Tom Dunne interviews producer Alex Gibney on the making of the latest documentary about Janis Joplin...

“Janis: Little Girl Blue” is a new documentary directed by Amy J Berg and narrated by Cat Power, which delves into the life and career of Janis Joplin and the pathways she paved before her untimely death at the age of 27.

Last night, Tom was joined on the show by the producer of the documentary, Alex Gibney (Finding Fela, Frank Sinatra: All or Nothing at all) to talk about some of the aspects of the the legendary folk and blues singer’s life that are explored throughout the film.

'Little Girl Blue’ gives viewers a new understanding of a complicated and driven woman who often struggled to find her place in the world.

“She was an oddball in a town that was relentlessly conformist, and that town put her through a pretty tough time”, explains Gibney, “In college I think she was even named ‘Ugliest Man on Campus’”.

Janis’ unseen diaries and letters to her friends, family and collaborators make up a huge part of the film, and director Amy Berg worked closely with the Janis’ brother, sister and estate to present these insightful documents effectively on screen.

“She (Amy) was was very impressed with the letters, and the letters hadn’t really come out yet. Then they key thing was to figure out the best way to present them.

“Amy found Chan Marshall (Cat Power) who’s from the south, and she brought a kind of honesty to the reading of these letters that’s very poignant. She really inhabited Janis in a way that I think is very powerful” tells Gibney.

Ultimately, the documentary paints the picture of a powerfully talented and highly emotional singer whose passion for love and music changed the industry forever, through a life and career which ended far too soon.

“There’s a very poignant moment in the film where one of her bandmates from ‘Holding Company’ talks about how he never met anybody who left herself so vulnerable, because she gave so much of herself to her music, and to expose yourself that much and to be so raw, ultimately I think in some way killed her”.


“Janis: Little Girl Blue” will be shown exclusively at the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield from this Friday, the 5th of February.

Tune in to the Tom Dunne Show from 10 - 12 tonight for your chance to win a pair of tickets to an advanced screening.

You can listen to the full interview with producer Alex Gibney on the podcast below: