Oprah attends the premiere of “Sidney” at the Toronto International Film Festival

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Last night Oprah made her first public appearance since before the pandemic to attend the premiere of sydneythe next Apple TV+ documentary about legendary film actor Sidney Poitier, who died in early 2022 at age 94. The premiere took place at the Toronto International Film Festival, where sydney was screened to a select group of people before its mainstream release.

The premiere was an emotional night. Not only was this Oprah’s first public appearance since before the pandemic, but it was also the first time Poitier’s family had reunited since her death. “You are the first audience to not only see the film, but you are the first audience to be able to pay homage to his life since his passing,” Oprah said as she introduced sydney. “So tonight is a memorial celebration.”

toronto international film festival 2022 "sidney" first

Sidney Poitier’s daughters Pamela, Beverly, Sherri, Anika and Sydney on the red carpet.

Emma McIntyre//Getty Images

Oprah wore a glittering Brandon Maxwell number and walked the red carpet with Gayle King, the Poitier girls and Tyler Perry. Also present was Reginald Hudlin, sydneythe director. Oprah praised him during the film’s presentation, calling Hudlin “one of the great directors of our time”. Oprah also shared that she immediately knew she had to be in the documentary. There was no hesitation: “Every part of me said yes,” Oprah told the crowd.

toronto international film festival 2022 "sidney" first

Oprah and Tyler Perry on the red carpet.

Leon Bennett//Getty Images

“I’ve loved him all my life,” Oprah said of Poitier. “We knew we loved him, we knew his lifeblood for us and we wanted you to be able to experience the same. There hasn’t been a single time in my life where I’ve had a conversation with him and I didn’t come away feeling expanded,” Oprah said. “And that’s what I hope will happen when you watch sydney tonight.” When the premiere ended, the crowd was certainly moved – the film received a standing ovation. Oprah was in tears, telling Hudlin, who also directed The Black Godfather and marshal, that it was his best work to date. “Oh my God. I had never seen it on the big screen,” Oprah said at the end. “And I’ve watched multiple versions, multiple edits, multiple cuts, and it’s so emotional. I’m so proud, and I know he’s proud of us.”

The following day, Gayle hosted a Q&A with Oprah and Poitier’s daughters to discuss sydney. When Gayle asked Oprah why Poitier had such an influence in her life, she explained that he made her career possible. “He kicked the doors open for me. The fact that there was a Oprah Winfrey Show it’s because he came first,” she said.

Oprah also noted that Poitier’s identity was “built on respect and character, not the color of his skin.” She learned that and more when she spent over four hours interviewing Poitier in 2012 (footage from that session is included in the documentary). “The spirit of who he is and was as a man allows us to see what is possible,” Oprah said in the Q&A. “I love him even more after this movie.”

Poitier had a long and pioneering career. He was the first black man to win a Best Actor Oscar, which he won for the 1963 film field lily. That win came amid some of his biggest roles of the 1950s and 1960s—Jthe defiant, A raisin in the sun, Guess who’s coming to dinner, and countless others. Poitier also wrote a memoir later in life, The measure of manwhich was an Oprah’s Book Club pick in 2007.

Oprah met Poitier for the first time The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2000 and interviewed him that year for Oh, Oprah’s Magazine. They continued to stay in touch, with Poitier joining in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of TRAILERSparticipating in Master class, and sit down with Oprah for an OBC discussion. But the real reason Oprah felt connected to Poitier began much earlier — in the ’60s, in fact, when she watched him win his Oscar. “In my mind, I knew that because you won the Oscar, I too could do something special – and I didn’t even know what that was,” Oprah told Poitier during their premiere. meet. “I thought, If he can be that, I wonder what I can be.

Oprah pays tribute to her role model with sydney. The documentary dives deep into the life of Poitiers, using interviews with those inspired by Poitiers…Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Robert Redford, Lenny Kravitz, Barbra Streisand, Spike Lee, etc. Directed by Hudlin, sydney explores the icon’s time in Hollywood as well as his role as an activist within the civil rights movement.

sydney premieres in theaters and on Apple TV+ on September 23, 2022. Watch the trailer below and learn more here.

preview of Watch the trailer for Oprah's documentary about Sidney Poitier for Apple TV

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Darcy J. Skinner