After stints at Sundance and the recent Toronto International Film Festival, Chris Rock brought his doc “Good Hair” to Manhattan Monday night with a premiere screening hosted by the Cinema Society. A host of celebs turned out for the event at IFC Center where passers by were lured to gawk at the red carpet and step and repeat backdrop (which was nearly curbside on a very busy Avenue of the Americas). Rock and producer Nelson George finally got things underway, a half hour past the official start time, thanking HBO Films and distributor Roadside Attractions, which opens the film in the U.S. next Friday. Rock also had premiere parties in Los Angeles and Atlanta, where a large chunk of the film takes place.
In Toronto during an on stage interview with TIFF doc programmer, Thom Powers, Rock said his young daughter came to him one day and said, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” which prompted him to finally undertake the project. Rock said the idea had been brewing for years and he credited director Michael Moore for pioneering a style of filmmaking he called “funny and smart.”
“I’ve always been a big fan of Michael Moore ever since I saw ‘Roger & Me’ 20 years ago,” Rock last month. The comedian’s fellow celebs including Adrian Grenier, Gayle King, Gina Gershon, Rosie Perez were joined by “Good Hair” cast members Nia Long, Ice-T, Salt N Pepa, Reverend Al Sharpton and Andre Harrell for the feature, which managed a number of laughs from everyone no matter their hair persuasion. The film mixes part humor and part investigative journalism to explore the topic of black women’s hair, taking the camera to salons and laboratories and even the international trade in Indian and Korean hair, which form a cornerstone of a vast industry in which individuals pay thousands of dollars to maintain a perfect coiffe. One person admitted in the film her annual hair bill comes to about $18,000.
It’s a funny thing about hair. Li’l Kim and Michell Obama have nothing in common, but if you just say ‘hair,’ they’ll talk for two hours,” Rock said in Toronto who added that he thought this was the funniest film of his repertoire even though it’s only PG-13 and mostly void of his typically sexually charged and expletive-laced stand up.
After the screening last night, the crowd headed over to the new Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s Meat Packing District for a round of champagne, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. The weather was dry and crisp, typical of early fall in New York, so nobody had to fight the frizzies of a humid summer evening like when Cinema Society hosted the NYC debut of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” at the Standard in August. The DJ (who sported an Afro), meanwhile, played a stellar mix of music and many stayed passed midnight. Rock even stuck around, not simply making a quick walk through as is often the case with events like these.
Guests then grabbed a shimmering gift bag on their way out which included a Target gift certificate (Target hosted the evening along with Cinema Society). “I guess I’ll have to take it with me when I travel somewhere,” chuckled one guest after eyeing the $50 certificate noting the big box chain does not have a Manhattan location.