The 47th annual Toronto International Film Festival kicked off the fall film season this past Thursday, September 8, 2022. As part of the opening slate of premieres, Tyler Perry’s A Jazzman’s Blues made its debut, accompanied by panel discussions and interviews with Perry and the core cast of the film on the vision behind the project.
When asked about the long-awaited creation of this film – the first screenplay he ever wrote in the 90s – Tyler noted to The LA Times that “Taking a chance on a period piece such as ‘Jazzman’s Blues’’ was really a risk.” The drama, which follows a narrative about race, colorism and star-crossed lovers, marks a departure from the prolific writer, director, and actor’s usual brand of comedy. Grappling with the convergence of the past and current state of politics in America, Tyler expressed the urgency for a film like this in conversation with The Hollywood Reporter. “[There is an] assault on our history,” Tyler observed to staff writer Mia Galuppo. “The history of Black people in America – the history of slavery, the history of Jim Crow – there’s this effort to homogenize it and water down and rewrite it.” An act of preservation, Tyler was finally able to produce the film after decades of establishing his box-office credibility, and is now able to ensure in his own way that these historical truths do not fall by the wayside.
The premiere of A Jazzman’s Blues ended in a standing ovation along with a performance of the film’s original song “Paper Planes” from singer-songwriter Ruth B. The premiere was pointedly marked with Oprah Winfrey’s statements on the red carpet where she asserted that Tyler Perry is carrying on the legacy of iconic filmmaker Sidney Poitier, who’s own posthumous documentary premiered at the festival. “What people don’t understand is Tyler has built an Empire” Oprah explained. “He’s not just carrying on the work of people like Sidney, but transcending in ways not even Sidney Poitier could imagine.”
Setting the stage for what’s to come, the film’s premiere at TIFF gave the world a glimpse of Tyler’s versatility as a filmmaker. “I feel like I have the space to be able to tell stories like “Jazzman” and also, if I want to go back and tell a Madea story, do that as well” Tyler said to The LA Times. No matter the story – whether it’s a nearly finished WWII script or a potential zombie flick – Tyler Perry brings his trademark drive and assiduousness to each endeavor, and he is poised to surprise.