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Kanye West Film Premieres in NYC; Industry Reacts

After stops in Paris, Los Angeles, Chicago and more, the premiere of Kanye West’s “Runaway” videolanded in New York City last night (October 21). Held at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in Lower Manhattan, there were initially supposed to be two simultaneous screenings, but due to an issue with one of the theaters, some guests were left in the cold until the second showing.

“Thank you everybody for waiting, I really appreciate it,” Ye said, during his introduction of the piece, to those who decided to stick around for the second screening.

He then offered up some of his thinking behind creating the nearly 35-minute presentation. “It’s been a dream of mine since Late Registration to do a full movie,” he admitted, saying that he wishes all of his tracks could get their proper shine through music videos, and this was a step in that direction. “It’s a good explanation of what I’m all about and I’m getting better and better [at it].”

The XXL October 2010 cover subject explained that he makes choices naturally and organically, without worrying about what other think he should or shouldn’t be doing. “I make all of my decisions from the perspective of a five-year-old before I was taught what to like. Or what not to like.”

The film opens with West running and is narrated early on by Nicki Minaj, employing the fake British accent that she sometimes uses in her music. Soon, there is an explosion, with a fireball landing in front of Ye, and The Phoenix, played by model Selita Ebanks, emerges. The two form a relationship and The Phoenix, being an other-worldly figure, knows nothing of our ways or societal norms. Kanye tries to teach her, at times, but also seems to embrace her innocence.

Some attendees spoke with to offer their reactions following the screening.

“Let me digest it,” pleaded K’Naan, laughing.

“Inspiring,” DJ Enuff praised. “It reminds me of early Pink Floyd, The Wall [and] early Led Zep[pelin] films. Not psychedelic in that sense, but just something different, beyond hip-hop. It’s bigger than hip-hop. I love the fact that he’s putting art and music all together. And that’s the beauty part. Some people ain’t gonna get it—I’ma keep it one hundred. But it’s definitely something to check out.”

Sha Money XL, Def Jam’s VP of A&R, also lauded the project. “That Kanye shit is fucking amazing, he said. “Super artistic. It’s a way to put an album snippet together at a high value of quality and make people actually watch and listen. I think that was very creative and very genius. Shout out to Kanye, Gee Roberson and the whole Def Jam family.”

“I appreciate the foreign sensibility,” said fellow producer Double-O, one half of the duo Kidz in the Hall. “I love the fact that it was shot in Prague, which is one of my favorite cities. It’s a gift and a curse. I think we all get it; my thing is waiting for Saturday to see if everybody else does. ‘Cause that’s the important thing. You want to try to really get the message out when you’re doing something on an art basis. But I love the fact that there’s a visual attached with the music, because it immediately gives you a certain feeling when you’ll hear the records when the album comes out, and I think that’s the most important part.”

“Runaway” premieres on MTV, BET, VH1,, and on Saturday, October 23 at 8 p.m. Of his decision to debut the fim across multiple platforms, Kanye added, “I think it’s a very Michael Jackson type thing [to do].” —Adam Fleischer

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