Film and music lovers were spoiled this weekend at North America's biggest film festival, galvanized by the arrival of the phenomenon Lil Nas X and his new documentary, which is part of a program turned towards the music industry.
Two feature films about legendary singer Paul Simon and Canadian rock band Nickelback also premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). But all eyes were on Lil Nas Combining footage from his first tour with various previously unpublished interviews, his documentary Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero goes behind the scenes of the artist's rise to fame. Real name Montero Lamar Hill, the native of the state of Georgia, in the south of the United States, also talks about his decision to openly accept his homosexuality and the repercussions on those close to him and his music.
Also read: Queer, blood and rain of rhinestones: Lil Nas X, the rapper who shakes up puritan America
“It seemed very important to me to come out if I wanted to progress,” Lil Nas X says in the film. On the red carpet, co-director Zac Manuel particularly emphasized his societal impact as a proud and outspoken gay black man, defying stereotypes through his adoption of avant-garde fashion and his presence. massive and eccentric on social networks. “I think it's crucial to show a different view of homosexuality, of being black, of masculinity and being comfortable with it. I think it’s something he brings to the public,” the director told AFP. Following the screening, Lil Nas X also took the opportunity to give “his biggest advice” to his overexcited fans: “Do what you are most afraid to do”.
A few hours earlier, the premiere was disrupted for around thirty minutes by a “general threat” which was however “not directed against the film or the artist”, according to the TIFF vice-president in charge of communications, Judy Lung. Toronto police told AFP that a passerby "made a threat against security", while emphasizing that it was not aimed at anyone in particular. For its part, the specialized media Variety, citing an anonymous source, maintains that it was a bomb threat specifically targeting the rapper for his skin color and sexual orientation. Lil Nas X's agents did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.
Less than 12 hours after the Lil Nas . “I never wanted to be anything other than a songwriter and a singer since I was 13,” says Paul Simon in the film by Alex Gibney, the Oscar-winning director behind the documentaries Taxi to the Dark Side and Going Clear. The film compiles archival footage spanning more than six decades, ranging from his stormy collaboration with his childhood friend Art Garfunkel to his exploration of world music, notably with Graceland.
It also traces the work done on his latest album Seven Psalms, released in May, and describes how the Grammy Award winner, two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, deals with hearing loss in his left ear. “I really sank into depression,” confides the artist, who explains how his creative approach was transformed by this health problem. On another note, it was Nickelback fans who were doubly satisfied on Friday. In conjunction with the premiere of the documentary Hate to Love: Nickelback, the Canadian rock band performed a free concert at the TIFF street festival, returning for the first time since the pandemic.
The group, best known for their 2001 number one hit How You Remind Me, have faced harsh criticism over the years for remaining too conventional. The film shows how this torrent of reproaches hit the privacy of its members hard. TIFF continues through Sunday, September 17.