“I started singing when I was about 17,” late rock legend Janis Joplin reflects in the trailer for Amy Berg’s documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue. “And I could sing. It was a surprise, to say the least.” The clip, soundtracked by Joplin’s raw belting of “Mercedes Benz,” surveys the musician’s musical legacy and her massive influence on many subsequent female rock and pop artists.
“She took a flag and made a place in rock and roll for women,” says Melissa Etheridge. “She was the first.” Pink adds that “Janis was fearless with her pain and with her truth.” The teaser ends with narration from Chan Marshall (Cat Power), who reads a letter Joplin wrote to her parents about the singer’s complicated outlook on fame. “As it gets closer, more probable, being a star is really losing its meaning,” she says. “But whatever ‘it’ means, I’m ready.”
Berg is best known for tackling more grim subject matter – like the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals, which she chronicled in 2006’s Oscar-nominated Deliver Us From Evil. Janis, which premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival, is her first film profiling a musician.
Using Joplin’s own words through a series of letters, the movie documents her iconic ascent to rock stardom and tragic 1970 death from a heroin overdose at age 27. “If you watch Janis, you see this woman who just seems fearless, and then you read these letters, and it’s such a different persona,” Berg told The Associated Press. “You see this very vulnerable, raw woman seeking validation.”