The gala screening was scheduled for a 10 p.m. start at Roy Thomson Hall, one of TIFF’s premier venues. The documentary’s co-directors Carlos López Estrada and Zac Manuel and editor Andrew Morrow arrived on the red carpet first, posing with fans that lined the entryway. But as their subject, pop superstar Lil Nas X, pulled up in his car to join them, organizers were informed that a bomb threat had been called in and the artist was told to hold, sources told Variety. The threat specifically targeted the rapper for being a Black queer artist, one source added.
Representatives for TIFF did not respond to an immediate request for comment.
Nas’ arrival was delayed 20 minutes while TIFF security conducted a sweep of the venue. After the threat was proved not credible, he joined Estrada and Manuel on the red carpet and the screening began at approximately 10:30pm.
In its 46-year history, TIFF has been relatively incident free when it comes to security. In 2017, the festival invested in tighter cybersecurity measures after a hack crippled box office capabilities and citywide WiFi connections at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah. In 2018, Toronto introduced bomb-sniffing dogs and bag checks at screenings in response to local terror attacks (including a public shooting, and the killing of 10 innocents when a driver purposely crashed a van into a sidewalk).
In an exclusive interview ahead of the documentary’s premiere, Nas told Variety about the impact he hopes the film will have on audiences, especially as it addresses issues of representation.
“I know in my lifetime, while I’m here, I’m going to do my best to make the ceiling unreachable to where we can go as Black queer people,” Nas said. “And I mean unreachable as, like, it can go above and beyond.”
He continued: “I feel like we live in a generation where Black queer people really control culture, and they’re helping really take the world to the next level. And I think that’s going to have an effect on our youth watching us.”