Nothing could stop Inside Out from celebrating their 30th anniversary, not even a pandemic! To kick off this special commemorative year, the festival presented Stardust, a film that chronicles the escapades of David Bowie‘s first visit to the United States in 1971, a trip that would go on to inspired the invention of his iconic alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.

It begins with Bowie in London being informed that his latest album, The Man Who Sold The World, isn’t what the record companies were hoping for in follow up to his highly acclaimed Space Oddity album. The initial single, All The Mad Men, was a bomb on radio stations and the executives wanted him to rework the album to make it more pop-friendly. At this time Bowie was married to his first wife Angie, who was instrumental in getting Bowie to stick with his vision and not back down to the labels. Another strong proponent of his was his older brother Terry, who also wanted to be a musician but wasn’t able to get the same breaks as David.

Bowie decides he wants to go to “America” to try and make it big there, as several other British acts at the time were starting to create a buzz, which would later be deemed the British music invasion. So he set out on his own, advised by his label that he’d be met upon arrival and treated like a rock star. Needless to say, the complete opposite happened. Upon his arrival he was hassled by immigration for stating his name as Bowie instead of his real name, Jones, thenĀ  interrogated questioned if he was a homosexual, pervert, or sexual deviant. Eventually he got through and was finally met by his U.S. publicist, Ron Oberman, who would go on to be one of Bowie’s greatest supporter.

After a rocky start, where Bowie wouldn’t be able to do the tour he thought due not having obtained a working visa, Oberman decides to pursue other avenues to make Bowie huge, as he believed in him. This would involve gigs for private companies, such as a Eureka vacuum convention, and interviews with minor news publications. Oberman kept telling Bowie he was going to get him on the cover or Rolling Stone magazine, and he did all he could to make that happen.

The film continues to go back and forth between the U.K. and U.S. intertwining stories of his family and friends back home, and the continuing challenges with trying to break the music scene in America. His outlandish behaviour and outfits were not working to his advantage. One theme that plays out strongly in the film is his tarnished relationship with his father, and the amount of schizophrenia and other mental illness that was innate within his family history. Several of his parent’s siblings, as well as his own siblings were diagnosed, and throughout the film, Bowie was left thinking if he was also on the spectrum.

The hardest to deal with was his brother Terry who was admitted to an asylum. The film depicts their relationship as brothers, and also musicians, and leaves viewers questioning how much Bowie was actually influenced by his older brother. Oberman eventually tells Bowie, “if you can’t be yourself, be someone else”, which has somewhat of a double meaning, given the relationship with his brother, and his stage persona. Eventually, Ziggy is born, and as is often said, the rest is history.

Throughout the film Bowie would say he’s an alien, and often speak in tongues when reporters were trying to interview him. Was it all an act, or was there some underlying family history that provoked this behaviour? It remains unclear, but either way as the world now knows, Bowie was a genius.

This film likens to previously released films done on the lives of Elton John and Freddie Mercury. Excellent acting from Johnny Flynn as Bowie, and Marc Maran as Oberman. A wonderful piece of cinematic work that is a must see film of 2020!

See below for other films theBUZZ recommends checking out at the festival this year, from home or social distanced. Click here for the full schedule of all films playing this year.

CICADA

GOSSAMER FOLDS

MONSOON

NO HARD FEELINGS

RURANGI

SEX, SIN & 69

SHIVA BABY

THE STRONG ONES (LOS FUERTES)

WELCOME TO THE USA

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.