Forget a one-horse town: “Concrete Cowboy” premiered in front of a more than 50-car audience at a special screening in Downtown Los Angeles on Thursday night in the Hotel Figueroa parking lot.
Ahead of the screening, the film’s producer Lee Daniels and writer-director Ricky Staub took the stage to celebrate launching the movie in this unconventional, yet innovative, way. It will have its official Toronto International Film Festival premiere on Sept. 13.
“Tucker Tooley and I want to thank Cameron Bailey and everybody at TIFF for inviting us here under these very unique circumstances,” Daniels said, encouraging the crowd to honk in approval. “We’re in some dark and ugly times; this is some crazy, apocalyptic crazy, s— that’s going on that I don’t even know whether our grandkids will be able to appreciate. … And this movie is beautiful. It’s light in the midst of all this darkness, in this Trump-ness, in this craziness.”
“Concrete Cowboy” follows 15-year-old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin), who discovers the world of urban horseback riding when his mother sends him to live with his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba) in North Philadelphia. Jharrel Jerome, Lorraine Toussaint and Method Man also star in the film.
Daniels, a native of Philadelphia, where the film is set, also praised the film’s father-son love story and Staub, calling him “the voice of the future.”
When it was Staub’s turn to take the mic, he described the night as “a dream come true.”
“I don’t know, [if] when you dream of releasing your movie, it’s at a drive-in, but I never dreamed my first movie would be all-Black Western set in Philly,” Staub joked. “We shot like banshees over the summer; it was nuts. … It’s an extraordinary time to be releasing this.”
The film’s stars, Jerome and Byron Bowers, also joined the drive-in celebration with Elba, who also served as a producer on the film, appearing via video message as the screening kicked off.
“It’s a very special film, during a very special time. I had the most incredible time making it — the crew, the actors, and especially the riders that come from Philly, and come from the community that we make this film about,” Elba said. “At the heart of it is a story about a relationship. I don’t want to tell you too much, but I, you know, it’s something that really resonated with me when I read this script, so I hope it resonates with you. Listen, man, for the love of film, enjoy yourself, take your seatbelts off and have some fun.”
The special premiere is part of a two-night event hosted by Endeavor Content, with double-feature screenings of some of the sales agent’s hottest TIFF titles. Following the screening of “Concrete Cowboy,” guests were invited to stay for director Roseanne Liang’s “Shadow in the Cloud.” Friday night’s lineup features “Penguin Bloom,” with an encore screening of “Shadow in the Cloud.” The special event also featured food trucks from L.A.’s All Flavor No Grease and Sr. Cliff’s Texas Style Burritos, with dessert by King Kone and Lavazza coffee.