“The arc of history shows us that progress is made incrementally”: Lisa Cortés on Little Richard – I Am Everything
Little Richard: I Am Everything is the visually arresting music documentary about the life and legacy of Richard Wayne Penniman – AKA Little Richard – and the oft-whitewashed, queer, Black origins of rock ‘n’ roll. Focusing on themes like queerness, racism and the unreliable narrator, the film unravels the complexities of Penniman’s life and the singer as a person, as well as looks at ways his impact on popular culture was often undermined or overlooked.
The Upcoming heard from filmmaker Lisa Cortés about how she crafted a unique narrative featuring the musician’s own voice, archival footage, interviews and dreamscapes. Cortés emphasised how the documentary explores the idea of appropriation versus obliteration in the music industry, particularly in the case of Elvis Presley and Little Richard, his experiences with racism, and the theme of queerness, both in terms of Penniman’s sexuality and as a broader concept encompassing anything different from the norm. Cortés discussed the contradictions and challenges presented by Little Richard’s own unreliable narration, as well as the importance of countering some of his ideas with input from scholars, friends and family. She shared her hope the documentary will immerse audiences in Little Richard’s journey, leading to empathy for the divided soul that he was, espousing her belief that it’s through the arts that we’re exposed to possibilities that allow us to progress as a society.
Little Richard: I Am Everything is released in select cinemas on 28th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Little Richard: I Am Everything here: