NEW YORK — In February 2020, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira stunned with a marathon Super Bowl halftime show that perfectly marries pageantry with politics.
But in “Halftime,” a new documentary that opened the annual Tribeca festival on Wednesday, Lopez reveals it hasn’t been easy navigating in the months and weeks leading up to the performance.
In candid interviews and on-the-fly footage captured by director Amanda Micheli in the summer of 2019, Lopez tries to keep quiet about speculation that she’s the “first” to headline the mid-2019 show. time. So when the announcement comes in September she will be joined by Shakira, Lopez’s team calls it a slight against the two women, suggesting the NFL doesn’t believe Latinas can command the world’s greatest stage solo. .
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Lopez, to be clear, doesn’t blame Shakira, and the two artists collaborate and support each other throughout the documentary. But Lopez isn’t holding back about the NFL.
“If it was going to be a double headliner, they should have given us 20 (expletive) minutes,” she told Shakira over the phone, after agreeing to split their 12-minute performance time evenly.
Later in the film, Lopez tries to work out her Super Bowl set list with her musical director, expressing her frustration at how few songs she can realistically do in the six minutes allotted to her.
“It’s the worst idea in the world to have two people for the Super Bowl,” Lopez said.
As the documentary begins, the singer gets emotional as she discusses former President Donald Trump and his anti-immigration policies, explaining how his dangerous rhetoric inspired her to make a statement with her Super Bowl performance.
During the halftime show, more than a dozen children appeared on the soccer field in lighted cages, from which they then emerged singing Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” and “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. They were joined moments later by Lopez, draped in a feathered Puerto Rican flag.
Senior NFL officials worried the cages were “too political” and also encouraged her to lose the giant Venus symbol for “woman” on stage, saying it was heavy-handed. But Lopez held firm on both issues, despite pressure from the NFL to make changes just hours before the show.
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In addition to the Super Bowl, “Halftime” offers a disheartening look at Lopez’s unsuccessful bid for her first Oscar nomination, after earning the best reviews of her career for her megawatt performance in the 2019 strip drama “Hustlers. “.
The film ends with his performance at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, meaning it doesn’t touch on his breakup with Alex Rodriguez or his reunion with Ben Affleck last year. (Although Affleck does appear in a brief interview about how Lopez is standing up to tabloid taunts and negative press.)
“We didn’t have any ground rules about what was off limits,” Micheli told USA TODAY on the red carpet ahead of Wednesday’s premiere. “She was very open to those long conversations with me and didn’t edit herself out at all. For me personally, I wasn’t interested in doing a talk on Jennifer’s relationships, but it was important that we at least address that. I think we’ve struck the right balance.”
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“Halftime” screened at the historic United Palace Theater in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, not far from where Lopez grew up in the Bronx. It was a busy affair compared to last year’s scaled-down Tribeca festival, which took place mostly outdoors due to COVID-19 caution.
“It’s awesome,” Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro said of the festival’s serious comeback. “I think everyone just wants to get out (of the house).”
The Tribeca Festival runs through June 19 with virtual and in-person events. “Halftime,” meanwhile, premieres on Netflix on June 14.