Directors Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin discuss their new HBO documentary “Tina,” which chronicles pop icon Tina Turner’s life. The two shared their original plans for the documentary and how that changed over the course of shooting with Jill Munroe during the African-American Film Critics roundtable discussion.
Dan Lindsay: Just from a general sense, there were versions of this film that leaned way more into the meta aspect. In fact, the beginning of this film was Tina going to watch an early workshop of the musical. And this idea of this woman nearing 80 years old, sitting down to watch the story of her life performed back to her. It was super interesting to us. We had a lot of versions where that was the beginning, and then we would mix in footage of the film and the musical. It got complicated. We decided that it didn’t need to be and that the meta aspect was there naturally.
I didn’t think we would ever put in the love story, like her and Erwin meeting. On paper, that doesn’t lend to me and TJ’s sensibilities to say, “and then she fell in love. But the way she lit up when talking about that, we said we have to include this. There’s so much joy there. It felt like a logical stop near the end of the film.
TJ Martin: On the surface you could say this is a film about trauma, but a flip of perspective, It is the pursuit of love. Erwin’s story is the beginning of trying to wrap up that aspect of the storyline. Finding love within a partnership that you can trust. Love of self, love of your own narrative. It felt like it was a natural part of the fabric to her journey.
There’s so much that was left out, I wish in a broad sense we had more time to spend on her artistry. Once we realized what the POV of the film was, we let the performances play out, so you could experience Tina as a performer and vocalist.
The documentary is currently available on HBO MAX. Head over to the AAFCA channel to catch the full roundtable discussion.