Homecoming (2019 film)

Homecoming (stylized as HΘMΣCΘMING; subtitled: "A Film by Beyoncé") is a 2019 American concert film about American singer Beyoncé and her performance at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, written, directed and executive produced by Beyoncé herself. It premiered on Netflix on April 17, 2019.[1][2]

Homecoming
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Directed byBeyoncé Knowles-Carter
Produced byDora Melissa Vargas
Written byBeyoncé Knowles-Carter
Starring
Music byBeyoncé Knowles-Carter
CinematographyMark Ritchie
Edited by
  • Live performance
  • Alexander Hammer
  • Documentary
  • Andrew Morrow
  • Nia Imani
  • Julian Klincewicz
Production
company
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • April 17, 2019 (2019-04-17)
Running time
137 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

The film is being described as an "intimate, in-depth look" of the concert, revealing "the emotional road from creative concept to a cultural movement".[3]

PromotionEdit

On April 3, 2019, it was reported that Beyoncé is working on new music, and also a collaborative project with Netflix which will be tied to her Coachella 2018 performance with additional footage.[4] On April 6, 2019, Netflix officially teased the project by posting on social media with a yellow image with the word “Homecoming” across it, and also the release date of the film.[5] The film's trailer was eventually released on April 8,[3][6] and was viewed over 16.6 million times across all Netflix social media accounts and Beyoncé's Facebook page in the first 24 hours.[7] Upon the film's release, Beyoncé released a live album entitled Homecoming: The Live Album. Homecoming had 757,000 interactions across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter over its first week.[8]

ReleaseEdit

Homecoming was the first of three projects Beyoncé has committed to Netflix, on a reportedly $60 million dollars deal.[9]

Several historically black colleges and universities had advanced screenings on April 16, including Howard and Texas Southern.[10][11]Nielsen reported that the film was watched by 1.1 million in the US in its first day, excluding views on mobile devices and computers, which Variety noted may have resulted in a sizeable undercount of views due to the "youth-skewing makeup of the 'Homecoming' viewership." 55% of viewership in the first seven days came from African Americans, higher than any other original streaming series or film tracked by Nielsen to date, ahead of Bird Box, which had 24% African American viewership.[8]

According to Netflix, Homecoming was the fourth most popular documentary offered on the platform in 2019, being the only concert film to appear on the list.[12]

Critical receptionEdit

Homecoming received widespread acclaim from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 98% approval rating based on 45 reviews and an average score of 9.05/10. The website's critical consensus simply states: "Beychella forever."[13] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 93, based on 14 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[14] This makes Homecoming the most acclaimed television special of all time.[15]

Several publications named Homecoming as one of the greatest concert films of all time, including RogerEbert.com,[16] The Washington Post,[17] The Hollywood Reporter,[18] Deadline,[19] Refinery29,[20] Chatelaine,[21] The Guardian,[22] and Chicago Sun-Times.[23] Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic called Homecoming "one of Beyoncé’s masterpieces", adding that the film's "combo of well-edited stage spectacle and behind-the-scenes segments—intimate, hard-fought, occasionally tense, politically explicit, personally specific segments—make it a career-defining document."[24] David Ehrlich of IndieWire wrote that "Beyoncé managed to fit the whole spectacle into a euphoric, triumphant, and exhaustingly fierce documentary that should help see Beychella enshrined as one of the definitive pop culture events of the century."[25]

Tobi Oredein for Metro describes how Homecoming "reminds us that Beyoncé isn’t just the greatest entertainer of all time, but the most exciting visionary in entertainment today."[26] Andrea Valdez and Angela Watercutter from Wired named Homecoming as a "once-in-a-lifetime performance by one of the world's greatest living artists that our hyperconnected world allows everyone to celebrate together."[27] Danielle Cadet wrote for Refinery29 that the film showcases Beyoncé's "world-class talent and work ethic, proving no one ever has nor ever will do it like she does."[28]

Barrett Holmes of BBC describes the film as "much more than a film about the first black woman to headline the Coachella music festival," saying "through including quotes and audio from black leaders and intellectuals, Homecoming displayed the beauty of black culture, and gave people the chance to celebrate the necessity of black education.....It is a celebration of black American culture with education, specifically Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), serving as the foundation of her message."[29] Judy Berman of Time states that the film "recontextualizes the show in a way that claims the most influential live music event in North America for black culture."[30]

AccoladesEdit

Homecoming was named the greatest documentary of 2019 by The Daily Dot.[31] The film was also included in Paste's list of the 15 best documentaries of 2019.[32] Decider journalist Claire Spellberg placed Homecoming at number two on her list of the best in television and film in 2019.[33] Homecoming was also named the third best movie of any genre of 2019 by both Thomas Atkinson for The Skinny[34] and Ken Bakely for Film Pulse,[35] while Decider named it seventh best.[36] Homecoming ranked at number 1 on Metacritic's list of the best miniseries, TV movies and specials of 2019,[37] and at number two on Rotten Tomatoes' list of the Best Reviewed TV & Streaming Movies of the same year.[38] In the Los Angeles Times's "The Millennium 200" list chronicling the greatest pop culture moments of the first 20 years of the millennium, Beyoncé's Coachella set and Homecoming was placed at number 1.[39] Homecoming was declared by Letterboxd as the fourth greatest documentary or non-fiction film of the decade (2010s).[40] Homecoming was included in Insider's list of the "21 Netflix originals everyone should watch in their lifetime, according to critics".[41]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2019
Black Reel Television Awards Outstanding Television Documentary or Special Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Derek Dixie Nominated [42]
Cinema Eye Awards Broadcast Film Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé Nominated [43]
Broadcast Editing Nominated
Broadcast Cinematography Won
Grierson Awards Best Arts or Music Documentary Shortlisted [44]
IDA Documentary Awards Best Music Documentary Won [45]
International Online Cinema Awards TV Awards Variety, Comedy or Music Program Won [46]
National Film & Television Awards Best Documentary Nominated [47]
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Variety Program Nominated [48]
Best Direction of a Reality or Non-Fiction Program Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Derek Dixie Won
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé Nominated [49]
Outstanding Costumes for a Variety, Nonfiction, or Reality Programming Marni Senofonte, Olivier Rousteing and Timothy White Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Ed Burke Nominated
Outstanding Music Direction Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Derek Dixie Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special Ric Lipson, Rachel Duncan and Andrew Makadsi Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special Beyoncé Knowles-Carter Nominated
2020
Grammy Awards Best Music Film Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Ed Burke and Dora Melissa Vargas Won [50]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Variety (Series or Special) Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé Won [51]
Outstanding Documentary (Television – Series or Special) Nominated
NME Awards Best Music Film Nominated [52]
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Non-Theatrical Releases Won [53]
Talk Film Society Awards Best Documentary Nominated [54]
Visionary Honours Documentary of the Year Pending [55]

ImpactEdit

English singer Rita Ora said that she was inspired by Homecoming when trying to perfect her own performances, calling it the "real deal" and saying "When I watched that, I completely got it."[56] Homecoming also inspired the comeback of Irish group Westlife, who stated that in the film "you could see how much of a captain she was on her own ship."[57] Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello said that Homecoming had a profound impact on her, further explaining "I spent the last whole year before every performance, I would listen to Homecoming and just watching that documentary; it just felt so meaningful and important and connected to humanity and what's real in the world. I was just really inspired by her strength, and I think that she's incredible."[58] South Korean musician Wooseok cited Homecoming as his inspiration, praising its "quotes and lessons" and revelations of Beyonce's "morals and work ethic", and adding "Seeing the way she prepared a stage for Coachella for a year for a short performance really inspired me."[59]

Homecoming has been said to have set a trend of musicians releasing a film project on Netflix together with an album; Lonely Island's The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience, Thom Yorke's Anima, Sturgill Simpson's Sound & Fury, and Kid Cudi's Entergalactic are all cited as examples of projects that have followed the precedent that Homecoming set.[60] Homecoming has also said to have preceded the emergence of 2020 as the "year of the pop star documentary", with more streaming services making deals with musicians for documentaries such as Taylor Swift: Miss Americana for Netflix, Justin Bieber: Seasons for YouTube Originals and Billie Eilish's and Rihanna's upcoming documentaries for Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video, respectively.[61] Travis Scott's documentary Look Mom I Can Fly has also been cited as a film that follows in the footsteps of Homecoming.[62] Lizzo's "Good as Hell" music video was said to be inspired by Homecoming.[63] Sheldon Pearce for Pitchfork wrote that Homecoming kickstarted the "ongoing uprising" where "black women have been demanding ownership of their outsized impact on culture"; Jamila Woods' LEGACY! LEGACY! and Rapsody's Eve, as well as exhibitions such as "Black Women: Power and Grace" and "Posing Modernity", are mentioned as later works that constitute the "formative syllabus" that started with Homecoming.[64]

Canadian actress Sandra Oh dedicated her toast at the Time 100 Gala to Homecoming, calling the film "viscerally inspiring", describing how the film shows "an artist at her most potent and working on the deepest cultural levels" as well as "what you can create when you give your all and you make space for others to do the same."[65] British composer and musician Anna Meredith selected Homecoming for The Guardian's "30 best films about music, chosen by musicians", saying "She’s on top of every detail – the choreography, the costumes, the lighting, the staging – and it’s so great seeing a woman so much in charge of her ideas. It makes you want to work harder." Chelsea Clinton, in an interview with The Cut, said "I loved Homecoming", complimenting Beyoncé on working "herself body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit to get to that place" where she can perform after her difficult childbirth.[66] American actress Sophia Bush said that with Homecoming, Beyoncé is "setting a really killer example for the creative process", adding that "her commitment to artistry and the way that she demands excellence from every single person on her team, and herself... It’s so antithetical to what we hear about hierarchy."[67] Former First Lady Michelle Obama said that Beyoncé is "raising the bar for us all" with Homecoming, calling the film "both a celebration and a call to action" as well as a tool to "inspire the next generation of history makers and record breakers who'll run the world in the next years ahead."[68]

The Hollywood Reporter published an essay on Homecoming by American screenwriter, producer, and actress Lena Waithe, where she wrote:

I think it’s easy for audiences to think of this as just another concert film. We’ve seen iconic concert films before... But this is different. This concert is seen through the eyes of the performer. And her approach is poetic, breathtaking, exhausting, painstakingly particular, and even though it’s meticulous, she still allows room for there to be rough edges... What's most impressive about her directorial style is how unafraid she is to go from rough to smooth in a matter of seconds. It’s as if she’s jumping double Dutch. Flipping back and forth between the loud, vibrant colors of her and her dancers performing on stage to grainy images of her quiet life at home with her family, beautifully captured in black and white... She does the thing our icons before her weren't able to do — she holds onto her humanness for dear life... Homecoming is a tribute to blackness. It's a seance. It's a resurrection of all the ancestors that sat at Woolworth counters and demanded to be served. It's a love letter to historically black colleges and universities... Every cut, every music cue, every glance, every image is a chance to make history. And she does.

— Lena Waithe, "Why Beyoncé's Homecoming Isn't "Just Another Concert Film"", The Hollywood Reporter[69]

Many celebrations for Black History Month 2020 commemorated Homecoming. Footage from Homecoming was featured at the start of Google's advert for Black History Month, which begins with the phrase "There are moments in history that captivate us all", and then shows the opening of Beyoncé's performance and states that it is the most searched performance on the site.[70] Georgia Southern University hosted a panel discussion for Black History Month on the cultural importance of Homecoming, where they explored "culture, gender and race and how the documentary brings more awareness to the contributions of African-Americans".[71] Advertising agency Momentum Worldwide (part of McCann Worldgroup) curated a "Black History Museum", which exhibited merchandise from Homecoming,[72] whilst Spark Noir hosted a screening of Homecoming followed by a discussion about Beyoncé's contribution to culture.[73] Netflix featured Homecoming under "Black Superheroes" in their Black History Month collection amongst comic-book heroes such as Black Panther and Luke Cage.[74]

Through the tribute to HBCU culture in Homecoming, Beyoncé increased people's interest in HBCUs. High school seniors cited Homecoming as the reason that they were considering attending HBCUs,[75] while younger students were also said to be interested in HBCUs due to the film.[76] Additionally, Google searches for "HBCU" reached an all-time high after Homecoming was released.[77]

American actress Regina Hall opened the BET Awards 2019 with an homage to Homecoming entitled "Homegrown", parodying the opening to Beyoncé's performance as well as the documentary sections of the film.[78] American sitcom Grown-ish also paid homage to Homecoming.[79] The cast of Queer Eye paid tribute to Homecoming during their performance on Lip Sync Battle.[80]

A 9-feet-tall statue of Beyoncé as seen on the Homecoming poster was unveiled at Mercedes-Benz Area in Berlin.[81]

UCLA gymnast Nia Dennis performed a routine inspired by Homecoming, receiving a score of 9.975 as well as praise from celebrities after going viral on social media.[82][83]

In order to entertain and connect people who are participating in self-isolation and social distancing during the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic, Beyoncé's fans (led by Netflix’s editorial manager Jasmyn Lawson) organised a virtual watch party of Homecoming.[84][85][86] Hashtagged "#HOMEcoming", the watch party was the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide with half a million tweets,[87][88] and its participants included Kerry Washington,[89] Jack Dorsey,[90] Holly Robinson Peete,[91] Erica Baker,[92] and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture.[93]

The REACH Opening Festival at the Kennedy Center closed with a screening of Homecoming.[94] The Museum of the Moving Image screened Homecoming as part of Curators' Choice 2019.[95] Red Hot Arts in Australia hosted an outdoor screening of Homecoming singers and musicians playing tribute to the film.[96]

The "GO FIGURE" data visualization series explored the words and phrases that Beyoncé repeated throughout Homecoming and their impact on the viewer, with Semmi W. writing that Beyoncé "plants seeds of positive self-talk rather than doubt. Whether I was catching the subway or cleaning my apartment, her edict between my ears this weekend was cause for royal jubilee. In under two hours, Queen Bey kept declaring that we are all enough. In 162 sentences she told us to love, hustle, and claim what’s yours. She repeatedly affirmed my intrinsic worth as a black girl-turned-adult."[97]

Some fans accused American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift of "copying" Homecoming for her 2019 Billboard Music Awards performance, which caused "#mayochella" to be a trending topic on Twitter.[98][99][100][101] Arwa Mahdawi from The Guardian and Katherine Singh from Flare argued it was part of the long history of black women's achievements being ignored, undermined, appropriated and capitalized off by others.[102][103]

Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing revealed that designing the costumes for Homecoming was "the biggest challenge of my life". Rousteing described Beyoncé as a visionary, saying "She really is an inspiration — she wants to share a vision with you, and there are never any limits." Stylist Marni Senofonte agreed, saying "The preparation for this particular show was so much more intense than anything we’ve ever done"; approximately 60 looks were created for Beyoncé, while 1000 pieces were created for the final design of the cast's costumes. Rousteing spoke on Beyoncé's opening costume, saying "It was true couture, all handmade with stones and crystals. We wanted to create something truly iconic, something that instantly felt forever and timeless and historic. The pressure was really high, but in the end she was this Egyptian goddess and looked amazing."[104] Upon seeing himself in the Homecoming film, Rousteing remarked "I [had] tears and goosebumps." Other clients have approached Balmain to make pieces that recall the aesthetic of Homecoming, which he has refused. Rousteing said "The strength of Beyoncé is whatever she does, a lot of people are inspired by her. [But] when you do one thing for Beyoncé, no one can have the same thing."[105]

Music director Derek Dixie called working on Homecoming a "blessing", adding that being nominated for an Emmy Award means that "I’ve kind of accomplished something for the home team and family." Dixie also said "It was just months and months of prep work, making it sound authentic. She has tons and tons of classic records that when putting the show together, you have to maintain the classic feel of the record but make it feel like you’re in a stadium at homecoming."[106] Ric Lipson of Stufish, who designed the pyramidal stage for Homecoming, said "we’ve never really won — or been nominated for even — a prestigious thing like the Emmys. We all knew this was going to be something special, but I don’t think anyone realized how special." Lipson described the work on Homecoming as "a great challenge", since he needed to fulfil Beyoncé's vision "which was to evoke the aesthetic and energy of American historic black colleges, yet still look like a work of art." Stufish designed dozens of pyramid structures for the stage, with the final design "literally pushing the boundaries of what the festival would allow."[107] This stage was also displayed at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which the Los Angeles Times calls "a living piece of Beychella history".[108] The runway that was added to the stage for Beyoncé's performance was subsequently added as a permanent fixture for the 2019 festival.

MusicEdit

Homecoming: The Live Album was released at the same time as the documentary, with no prior announcement. The album featured 36 live tracks, 2 spoken word interludes and 2 new tracks, an official release of "I Been On" and a cover of Maze's "Before I Let Go".

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