Director: Lisa Cortés

98 mins, USA, 2023, Digital, F-Rated

Little Richard: I Am Everything shines a clarifying light on the Black, queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, and establishes Richard Wayne Penniman as the genre’s foundational figure. Lisa Cortés’s eye-opening documentary, featuring testimonials from legendary musicians and cultural figures, Black and queer scholars, Penniman’s family and friends, and interviews with the artist himself, exuberantly reclaims a history that was wilfully appropriated by white artists and institutions. This celebration of Little Richard reveals the Black queer origins of rock ’n’ roll, finally exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music. Through archival and performance footage, the icon’s life unspools with all of its switchbacks and contradictions. Cortés depicts Penniman’s complex journey as a conflicted revolutionary who navigated a path between religion, sex, rock ’n’ roll, and the extreme prejudices of his time.

Notes by David O’Mahony

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