Hours ahead of the March 13th SXSW premiere of Ondi Timoner‘s documentary Brand: A Second Coming, the doc’s subject British comedian Russell Brand (pictured) has pulled out of his slated appearance at the Austin festival.
In a statement posted on his website, Brand – who is profiled in the festival’s opening night film as he travels on his Messiah Complex tour, launches a YouTube channel and fights with critics – wrote: “I know Ondi is an artist and I’m told the film is good but for me watching it was very uncomfortable.”
Timoner spoke to realscreen about the doc prior to the premiere, noting the difficulties faced in gaining creative control of the project.
In a statement shared with realscreen regarding Brand’s withdrawal from SXSW, Timoner says, “I think that it is just difficult for him because it’s a very personal film, and he is vulnerable in it. He will come to realize people love him for it, but I do think reliving his life on screen is just not a pleasant experience for someone who has lived such a tumultuous life and is now in a very different place and so actively engaged in the present tense.”
The director previously worked with Brand on doc short Russell Brands the Bird. The comedian notes she’s a “very beautiful person” and “of peerless integrity,” but adds, “I suppose what I didn’t consider was that in letting go of the film, I was agreeing to be the subject of a biography. Posthumously this is a great honor, but while you’re alive, oddly intrusive and melancholy.
“You’d think a narcissist would like nothing more than talking about themselves and their ‘rags to riches,’ ‘hard luck’ story but actually, it felt like, to me, my life was hard enough the first time ’round and going through it again was painful and sad,” he writes.
Brand went on to apologize to SXSW organizers for his non-attendance, adding that he will also be pulling out of a keynote he was scheduled to deliver at the interactive festival.