Todrick Hall: Straight Outta Oz

After building an empire on YouTube, Todrick Hall leaps beyond his comfort zone and deep within his own backstory to create his most dazzling and vital work yet, but with only a few weeks and a few coins, will he crush it or will it crush him?

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  • ★★★★ review by Jason Bailey on Letterboxd

    Director Katherine Fairfax Wright documents 'American Idol' contestant and YouTube star Hall’s 2016 album and tour, a contemporary interpretation and staging of The Wizard of Oz that is a perpetual race against the clock – he writes records the songs, makes videos for all of them, releases the album (audio and video), and mounts a tour, all in the space of about a month. Hall seems to thrive on the adrenaline of pushing to the last minute, which is possible only because he’s a tireless worker and multi-hyphenate with a self-contained production unit. But aside from the fascinating logistical details of how this corner of the entertainment industry works, we also get a sense of how his art reflects his life; the film’s structure augments the performances with his autobiography, including some heart-wrenching memories of growing up black and gay in an environment that welcomed neither. Behind the Curtain could be a little tighter — it feels like the album and tour are each a movie fighting for time — but it’s a genuinely moving and inspiring portrait of a hard-working artist with a good heart (and of just how exhausting it is to be a pop star these days).

  • ★★★½ review by William Lindus on Letterboxd

    SXSW 2017

    Disclaimer: We interviewed Todrick Hall before seeing this film, and he was an absolutely charming and wonderful guest. I know that those sort of interactions can color a review, so putting that disclaimer up front so that my bias is known.

    What struck me most about the doc on Todrick Hall was how hard this man works to build his career and to develop his craft. As a study of a creator and his process, as well as the real life circumstances which have shaped him, this documentary hits the mark. That said, the film felt a little unfinished, feedback which shouldn't be surprising for director Katherine Fairfax Wright, who mentioned during the QA that they were making edits up until the last minute. In fact, the title changed from 'Todrick Hall: No Place Like Home' to 'Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall' between the time the film was submitted to the festival and the time it screened.

    The footage is all there, it just needs a tad more slicing and dicing - cut a bit to pick up the pacing - and you've got an excellent doc on your hands. As it stands, this is still a very good film and one worth your time.

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