Following a premiere on the opening night of Sundance Film Festival, Lisa Cortés’ documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything is arriving next month. The acclaimed film examines 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, the film 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.

Christopher Schobert said in his Sundance review, “Little Richard: I Am Everything is positively bursting with unforgettable anecdotes, so much so that choosing one standout is virtually impossible. So perhaps offering a personal favorite is more sensible: it was the late ’60s and Richard was performing in the States on a bill that included Janis Joplin. The latter appeared first and destroyed the audience with her passion and verve. Richard, watching from the side of the stage, told a cohort to get to the hotel and retrieve his “mirror suit.” Challenge accepted: when his performance began the lights reflected beautifully off the suit. He was a living mirror ball, resplendent, transcendent. Joplin, watching from the wings, could only utter ‘Oh my God.'”

See the trailer below.

Little Richard: I Am Everything screens on April 11 and then arrives in more theaters and digitally on April 21.

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