Face the Music | 2017 | 105 minutes
Stranger Says: The dancer, YouTube sensation, and RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Todrick Hall was heading out on tour to meet his fans when he decided to write an all-new stage show called Straight Outta Oz. Because most of his fans knew him through YouTube, and because he wanted his fans to know the material when they got to his shows, Hall had just two weeks to make and distribute 16 elaborate new music videos. This documentary charts the breakneck pace of his creative output and the story of Hall’s life, from growing up black and gay in a religious family in Texas to his star turn on Broadway. Essential to his success: a loving mom who drove him to dance classes an hour and a half each way, six days a week, when he was little. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)
SIFF Says:Described as “if Willy Wonka and Pee-wee Herman had a black child,” Todrick Hall is a YouTube celebrity, recording artist, songwriter, Broadway actor, Drag Race judge, and much, much more. But right now he has only four weeks to write, record, choreograph, film, stage, and design his upcoming Straight Outta Oz album and tour. Inspired by Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and spurred by not getting a hard-fought role as the Scarecrow on NBC’s The Wiz Live!, Hall imagines Straight Outta Oz as a confluence of L. Frank Baum’s oversized universe, Hall’s story growing up as a gay black male in Arlington, Texas, with a Christian mother, and a rousing piece of activism. As every set piece, costume, bit of choreography, and note is painstakingly created, Hall and his wide-reaching team pull 16-hour days to create “something epic, but for less than epic price.” Behind the Curtain―as open-hearted and frantic as documentaries get―mixes this behind-the-scenes tour with a look back at Hall’s own career and an examination of LGBTQ culture in the wake of the Pulse shooting, a nightclub near and dear to Hall’s heart. The result is an inspiring film about grit, perseverance, and the redemptive power of art.
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