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Portrait Of A Rock Legend: USC Premieres Lenny Kravitz Documentary

Courtney M. Fowler |
January 30, 2013 | 6:33 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

(Courtney Fowler/ Neon Tommy)
(Courtney Fowler/ Neon Tommy)
For years there have been documentaries chronicling the behind the scenes action of our favorite artists. “Rock docs” as they’re affectionately known, have in fact become just relevant to the music industry as music itself. However, few have managed to capture the true essence of artistry that’s depicted in “Looking Back On Love: Making Black and White America.”

On Tuesday evening, the USC School of Cinematic Arts hosted a premiere of the documentary, which follows rock icon Lenny Kravitz, for a three-year span as he preps his album, “Black and White America” and the yet-to-be-released project, “Negrophilia.” 

From his Bahamian-built studios to the streets of Paris, viewers are treated to an experience of musical innovation from the very grassroots of each song and its creative process. For Kravitz, who wrote all of the music on the album, the project is personal and through the vision of “Looking Back on Love” his passion for it is clear.

The film’s director, Mathieu Bitton, sat down with producer/director J. Kevin Swain following the screening to discuss the film in depth. One of the biggest questions of the audience came from the film’s composition. In many ways, Bitton was able to reveal a side of Kravitz that’s completely novel to the public and expressive of not only a great musician, but also great man. Intimate moments with his daughter Zoe and locals of the diverse cities that he frequents, humanize Kravitz, who’s been somewhat of a mystery for the span of his 20-plus year career.

“My thing was if you’re down to do it the way that I want to do it you can’t hide,” Bitton said. “There’s a scene where you see him sleeping in his bed and he was so creeped out that morning, but my whole thing was I wanted people to feel like when I was shooting it was real and to experience it the way it was.”

One of the most poignant parts of the film comes through Kravitz’ working relationship with his band. Not only can he play countless instruments himself, but his connection with guitarist Craig Ross, trombone player Trombone Shorty and keyboardist George Laks is obviously deeper than just business, which explains the cohesiveness of the album. 

“Looking Back on Love: Making Black and White America” debuted on iTunes on Tuesday and has already reached number five on the top documentaries charts. However, for Bitton its already done what was needed.

“It’s hard when it’s a movie about you, but I feel like I succeeded in showing the real Lenny” Bitton said. “Everything has its time and I was just glad that I was able to show who he truly was at that moment.”

To learn more about the film or purchase it on iTunes click here.  

Reach Staff Reporter Courtney M. Fowler here, follow her on Twitter here



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