A lot of you have likely never seen Janis Joplin perform a number onstage, live or on video, because most of you are under the age of 70 and have little use for concert documentaries from the 1970s. But a new doc captures that special magic of Janis performing onstage like Otis Redding on a third hit of blotter (and/or rambling onstage like Jim Morrison on a third sheet of blotter). That film is called Janis: Little Girl Blue, and it opens in Bay Area theaters today with a special 7 p.m. screening tonight at The Roxie with Big Brother and the Holding Company drummer David Getz doing a Q&A with Ben Fong-Torres.
“The film is so special because it really does give you one last Janis concert,” director Amy Berg told SFist. Berg was nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar in 2007 with Deliver Us From Evil and has the fortune of beating the Amy Adams Janis Joplin biopic to the screen.
An eight-year labor of love, this documentary features Cat Power reading some of Joplin's most revealing personal letters, as well as home movies of Janis in her toddlerhood, images from her teenage scrapbook and lots of never-seen-before concert footage. There's also an unearthed picture of Janis showing her boobs that you will never, ever forget.
The most goosebump-inducing footage is of late-1960s San Francisco, an era when Haight St. hood rats were often nationally respected pop stars. Bob Weir and Pigpen turn up to lend commentary, and Country Joe McDonald tells the story of that one time Janis accidentally did 68 hits of acid. Yes, 68.
"People have come up to me and said they felt like the film has given them a sense of what it used to be like in the Haight-Ashbury and North Beach," Ms. Berg said.
Janis: Little Girl Blue also painfully chronicles Janis’ meth and heroin addictions, and the conflict over leaving her original band because she was bigger than them.
“Janis Joplin is one of the most influential women in rock and roll,” Berg said’. “Janis was an influence to me and to many women I know just because she was so ballsy and she kicked doors open for women to pursue their own dreams.”