Jennifer Lopez Didn’t Know If ‘Halftime’ Documentary Was Possible: ‘This May Not See the Light of Day’

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Jennifer Lopez is reclaiming “Let’s Get Loud” from a club anthem to the mobilization of political activism as part of her second act.

The triple-threat talent who started as a dancer in the Bronx forged an acting career beginning with her Golden Globe-nominated debut in “Selena,” and took over the world as a pop star before becoming a global entrepreneur and humanitarian, reminded audiences at the Opening Night of the 2022 Tribeca Festival that she’s not even close to being done conquering the world — less than 50 percent, to be exact.

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The J.Lo documentary “Halftime,” directed by Amanda Micheli, world-premiered at the United Palace theater in Washington Heights on June 8, before debuting on Netflix June 14. The star-studded J.Lo event marked a homecoming for the Bronx-born “Hustlers” icon — and was also the first time Lopez herself had seen the film.

Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal Applaud In-Person Theatrical Premiere

Tribeca founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal introduced “Halftime” to kick off the 21st edition of the festival. Oscar-winner De Niro mused on the luxe United Palace historical venue, saying that the theater “reminds me of the big movie palaces I used to go to as a kid: the Lower East, the Capital, the Roxy, Radio City Music Hall.”

“The Lower East had more than 3,000 seats. The Roxy had nearly twice that. Radio City, even more than that,” De Niro reminisced. “It’s a great communal moviegoing experience. Thank you, United Palace, for keeping that feeling alive, and for not turning this into a 200-screen multiplex. And thank you for once again for hosting our Opening Night.”

Co-founder Rosenthal reminded audiences that Tribeca was “North America’s first major in-person festival since the beginning of the pandemic” in 2021. “It’s good to be back,” Rosenthal said, before commenting on Lopez’s “breathtaking artistry” captured by “Halftime.”

The film shows the “work, dedication, and perseverance central to achieving greatness,” according to Rosenthal. “It’s a window into the artistic process and the challenges of being a good citizen,” Rosenthal summed up before thanking the “amazing Netflix team” for partnering with the festival for the premiere.

“At the 2016 Tribeca Festival, we were proud to present the World Premiere of a brilliant documentary, ‘Vegas Baby,’ by an exciting young filmmaker, Amanda Micheli,” Rosenthal added.

De Niro chimed in, “And that makes her practically family. We are honored to have her back.”

Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal at the “Halftime” premiere - Credit: AP
Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal at the “Halftime” premiere - Credit: AP

AP

“Halftime” Was First Conceived as a “Run and Gun” 50th Birthday Tribute to J.Lo

Lopez’s producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, who was introduced as Jane Rosenthal’s “dear friend,” explained the origins of “Halftime.”

“What started as a run-and-gun trying to capture Jennifer celebrating her 50th birthday on the ‘It’s My Party’ tour began to morph into something else when my partner Benny Medina saw there was a larger story to tell,” Goldsmith-Thomas said.

Oscar- and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Amanda Micheli was then given access to “hundreds and hundreds of hours of archival footage and personal footage” to “find a story that hasn’t been told” about Lopez.

“Although Jennifer was extremely trepidatious and said to us more than a hundred times, ‘This may not see the light of day,’ what came out from Amanda’s beautiful lens was a film that celebrates an extraordinary woman at halftime,” Goldsmith-Thomas revealed.

“Halftime” - Credit: Netflix
“Halftime” - Credit: Netflix

Netflix

And the documentary only starts with Lopez blowing out her 50th birthday cake candles because there is so much more to cover: The mogul is seen preparing for the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime show, which Lopez explains multiple times was a “nightmare” to organize with the NFL demanding changes to her stage design up until mere hours before the performance. Lopez singing at the inauguration of President Joe Biden is also captured, as well as her philanthropic work with POC women small business owners.

“A big part of my job, of any job, is to distill the story down,” director Micheli said onstage. “So let’s say you’re making a film about someone who does one thing. That’s hard. Jennifer is a dancer, an actress, a singer, and all those other things.”

Micheli noted that a “lot was left on the cutting room floor,” and while the documentary visibly cuts out and around Lopez’s former fiancé Aaron Rodriguez, there is an insatiable urge to see more of Lopez’s life after the powerful doc.

“Last but not least — I got a little choked up — I want to thank you, Jennifer, for having the courage [to do this],” Micheli said. “I know it wasn’t easy but I know this film is going to mean a lot to millions of little girls and to millions of older girls like me. It was an honor to be a part of it.”

Ben Affleck, Anna Wintour, French Montana, and More Celebrate Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez at “Halftime” premiere - Credit: Sipa USA via AP
Jennifer Lopez at “Halftime” premiere - Credit: Sipa USA via AP

Sipa USA via AP

While Lopez’s two-time fiancé Ben Affleck was not in the audience, the Oscar winner did appear in the documentary to slam the vicious early-2000s media campaigns against J.Lo that sexualized her Latina background and claimed she was a “diva” on set for fighting for her artistic vision.

Instead seated next to Lopez at the premiere was “Vogue” editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who also is briefly in “Halftime.” Wintour appears backstage at the Versace Spring 2020 collection during 2019 Milan Fashion Week, where Lopez famously donned an updated version of the show-stopping, green, down-to-there gown she wore at the 2000 Grammy Awards. Per the documentary, that dress was the reason Google Images was created. Is there anything Lopez can’t do?

Hoda Kotb, whose on-air interviews and SiriusXM chats with Lopez are featured in “Halftime,” danced down the aisle at United Palace to Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” while Lopez collaborator French Montana sat near the Grammy winner as their song “Same Girl” debuted in the documentary. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ryan Seacrest, and “Real Housewives of New Jersey” couple Melissa and Joe Gorga all walked the red carpet. “The Dropout” and “Fatal Attraction” star Anne Archer was additionally in attendance, as well as Lopez’s “Marry Me” co-star Michelle Buteau and “What Not to Wear” stylist Stacy London.

Inside the Surprise Super Bowl Pop-Up Performance

And it all comes back to “Let’s Get Loud.” Following the documentary, a surprise performance by the children’s dance troupe from Lopez and Shakira’s Super Bowl show salsa’ed to “Let’s Get Loud” and “Born in the U.S.A.” As Lopez says in “Halftime,” the politically charged message of the Super Bowl was “not about politics, this is about human rights” when it came to children being separated from their families at the U.S./Mexico border.

The young kids then presented Lopez with a bouquet of flowers during a standing ovation. “I wasn’t going to say anything and was just going to sneak out,” Lopez joked as she was handed the microphone, “but thank you.”

As IndieWire’s Kate Erbland penned in her review of the documentary, “The film ends, both hysterically and appropriately, with a listing of Lopez’s current accomplishments, from her record sales to her current philanthropic endeavors. She deserves those flowers — and more.”

Opening Night After-Party

The Hudson hosted the after-party, which drew the likes of Alex Winter and Tribeca co-founder Jane Rosenthal to sip on Dutch Mules and margaritas paired with roasted chicken, plantains, rice, beans, and paella. The Inwood Park outdoor venue overlooked the Hudson River and marina, with a multi-level dance experience thanks to hip hop hits and of course, J.Lo’s iconic discography.

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