Film roll with shadows

Film Club: The U.S. vs. Billie Holiday

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November 4, 2021 @ 6:00pm 7:00pm

In conjunction with our special exhibition, The Woman Who Broke Boundaries: Photographer Lee Miller, we will be hosting a series of film conversations focusing on movies that highlight women who break traditional boundaries.

It works like this: We assign a movie that is available at a low cost or free on one or more digital platforms; we provide you with some questions to get you thinking as you watch the film; we all watch the film on our own; and then we meet virtually for a Zoom conversation facilitated by a Dalí Museum staff member.

The fourth film in this series will be The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and the conversation will be curated by our Education and Community Programming Associate, Joy Garrett. You can find the film on the Hulu streaming platform(free for members). The United States vs. Billie Holiday is rated R for drug use, domestic violence, language, nudity and mature themes.

This event is free to all. Registration is required. Only one registration is required per email/device that you will be tuning in from.


To prepare for the discussion, please refer to the following thought starters:

  1. Did you find the film shocking or provocative?
  2. Did you have prior knowledge of Billie Holiday and her relationship with The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)?
  3. How did the statement from Miss Freddy “She looks like a million bucks but she feels like nothing” change Agent Fletcher’s perspective of his investigation of Holiday?
  4. What motivated Harry Anslinger to investigate Billy Holiday?
  5. How did Holiday’s relationships influence her life?
  6. How did this film impact your views of the FBI during the 1940s – 1950s?
  7. What did the song Strange Fruit, 1959 represent to Billie Holiday?
  8. Is the film an effected social justice film?
  9. How does Billy Holiday fit our film series’ overall theme of boundary-breaking women?
  10. Did you enjoy watching this film?