The glamor and excitement of the Toronto Film Festival were momentarily overshadowed on Saturday night when the world premiere of the documentary Lil Nas X, Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero, was rocked by a disturbing bomb threat. What should have been a night of celebration and reflection on diversity in the film industry, instead became a shocking reminder of the challenges faced by queer and Black artists.
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The gala screening was excitedly scheduled to begin at 10 pm at the prestigious Roy Thomson Hall, one of the main venues of the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF). The co-directors of the documentary, Carlos López Estrada and Zac Manueltogether with the editor Andrew Morrow, arrived first on the red carpet, sharing smiles and hugs with excited fans lining the entrance. However, when Lil Nas Xthe pop superstar and the film’s protagonist, pulled up in his car to join them, the organizers received alarming news: they had received a bomb threat directed specifically at the rapper, presumably as an attack for being a queer artist. black, according to sources Variety.
The entertainment world was kept in suspense as TIFF security carried out a thorough sweep of the venue. A 20-minute delay left attendees shocked by what was happening. But eventually, the threat was revealed to be a false alarm, allowing Lil Nas X, López Estrada, Manuel and the public will breathe with relief. The screening finally started around 10:30 p.m.
What did the authorities say?
A TIFF spokesperson offered some clarification on the incident in statements to Variety: “This afternoon, the Toronto Police Service informed us of an investigation in the vicinity of the red carpet screening of ‘Lil Nas control began with a slight delay. As far as we know, this was a general threat and not directed at the film or the artist.”
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For its part, the Toronto Police Service, in response to questions about its involvement in the incident, stated: “Yesterday at TIFF, a bystander made a threat against private security. Out of an abundance of caution, Toronto Police and “Private security swept the scene and cleared it within 20 minutes. The threat was general and was not directed at any particular person.” The police emphasized that the threat was not directed at anyone, but sources close to the event expressed that the attack had a homophobic origin.
Despite this isolated incident, TIFF has historically enjoyed an excellent safety record in its 46-year history. However, in 2017, the festival strengthened its cybersecurity measures after an attack that crippled box office capabilities and WiFi connections during the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. In 2018, Toronto introduced bomb-sniffing dogs and bag checks at screenings in response to local terrorist attacks, including a tragic public shooting and the attack in which a driver plowed into a crowd, claiming the lives of 10 people.
I know that in my lifetime, as long as I am here, I will do everything I can to make the ceiling unattainable as far as we can go as black queer people (…) And I mean unattainable because it can go further.
In an exclusive interview before the documentary’s premiere, Lil Nas X shared his thoughts on the impact he hopes the film will have on audiences, especially when it comes to the representation of queer and Black people in the entertainment industry. In addition, the rapper pointed out the growth of the queer and black community in current popular culture, and the importance that his contribution to it will have on generations.
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While there was no incident that threatened the lives of those in attendance, it does leave a worrying reminder that, despite progress in the acceptance of diversity in society and the entertainment industry, there are still significant challenges and dangerous things that queer and black people face. Despite these obstacles, artists like Lil Nas X They continue to push boundaries and lead the way toward a more inclusive and equitable world.
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