Justin Timberlake kicks off concert documentary at Toronto festival

TORONTO – Pop star Justin Timberlake’s new concert documentary was a joy to make because the lack of rigid plot or story structure makes shooting such productions the “purest form of film making,” director Jonathan Demme said on Wednesday.

“Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday, was filmed at the final performances of the singer’s world tour in Las Vegas in January 2015.

It begins with a pre-show band huddle and then launches within minutes into the action-packed dance and musical spectacle from onstage.

“When we film music, to me that’s the purest form of film making,” Demme said in an interview in Toronto with Timberlake. “There’s no script that has to be followed. The only narrative is the music itself.”

Demme, known for “Philadelphia,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” and concert films such as “Stop Making Sense” with Talking Heads, said being in the middle of the show makes even a non-musician such as himself feel part of the music.

“We’re feeling it, so intense, and capturing it, it’s like, ‘We’re in the band now!'” he said.

The film, which will be released on Netflix on Oct. 12, is a culmination of Timberlake’s 134 shows and 2 years on the road on a tour billed as one of the highest-grossing of the decade.

Timberlake said on Wednesday he initially was nervous because he was being himself, instead of portraying characters as he usually does on screen.

“Last night I had a bit of that,” he said. “I was going like, ‘Oh, wow, a lot of people are going to see this now.'”

But Demme had told him that, in a way, performing on stage was playing a character as well, Timberlake said.

“Being on stage is intuitive but it’s also a bigger version of yourself,” he said.

Timberlake is a Demme fan and said the movie maker had captured the concert well, including his supporting cast. While Timberlake was the focus, the film did not neglect the Tennessee Kids, Timberlake’s 25-piece band whose members were given liberal screen time.

“I feel proud for everyone else in the show, the musicians and the dancers, because they’re such a part of what’s happening,” Timberlake said.

“I just kind of feel like I’m standing in the middle of them. I’m really happy for them to be showcased the way that they are.”

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