Magnolia Pictures has unveiled the first trailer for their acclaimed Lisa Cortés documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything, on the musical icon of the same name, which is set for special one-night-only theatrical screenings on April 11. The film, which world premiered as the opening night film for the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, will unspool in additional theaters and on digital on April 21.
Pic tells the story of the Black queer origins of rock ‘n’ roll, exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music to reveal the innovator – the originator – Richard Penniman. Through a wealth of archive and performance that brings us into Richard’s complicated inner world, the film unspools the icon’s life story with all its switchbacks and contradictions. In interviews with family, musicians, and cutting-edge Black and queer scholars, it reveals how Richard created an art form for ultimate self-expression, yet what he gave to the world he was never able to give to himself.
Cortés told Deadline at Sundance that from her perspective, Little Richard is absolutely “the king” of rock and roll. “But [what] our film shows, though, is that Richard oftentimes had to proclaim that in what he felt was a void that didn’t recognize his contributions,” the filmmaker explained. “And what I love is that in the mid-1950s he was saying he was a king. He was claiming a space for him that was denied for most Black people. It’s a time of Emmett Till’s murder. And Little Richard shows up at the same time declaring himself in a world that can be oftentimes dangerous for non-normative people.”
Cortés’ latest was produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films. The film featuring such notable creatives as Mick Jagger, Billy Porter, John Waters and Tom Jones was produced by Robert Friedman, Cortés, Liz Yale Marsh and Caryn Capotosto. Exec producers included Dee Rees, Mike Powers, Anita May Rosentstein, Gus Wenner, Jason Fine, Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton.
Cortés announced following I Am Everything‘s premiere that she’s entered into a first-look development agreement with the Museum of the City of New York, with an eye toward honing documentary IP based on the museum’s exhibitions. The first project being made under the deal, as we told you first, is a docuseries based on Gingerbread NYC: The Great Borough Bake-Off, an exhibition inviting bakers from every borough to design New York City-inspired gingerbread creations.
Cortés will develop and produce all Museum projects through her New York-based production company Cortés Filmworks, in partnership with Blue Ant Studios, where the filmmaker has a preexisting deal. Among her other forthcoming projects is The Empire of Ebony, which explores the Black publishing powerhouse that forever changed American culture.
Watch the trailer for Little Richard: I Am Everything by clicking above.
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