OutKast’s André Benjamin stars as Jimi Hendrix in this biopic of the rock legend.

Special Presentations

All Is By My Side

John Ridley

Jimi Hendrix before he was Jimi Hendrix. A portrait of the icon as a young man, John Ridley's All Is By My Side features charismatic hip-hop star Andre Benjamin (one half of Outkast) as a sensitive, struggling guitarist on the verge of becoming a rock legend.

In 1966, James Hendrix — stage name Jimmy James — is still an unknown backup guitarist playing in New York's Cheetah club. Hip, stylish Linda Keith (Imogen Poots) happens to catch a set he's playing and is mesmerized by his talent. She also happens to be girlfriend to the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards. Encouraging his talent, even buying him a new guitar, Linda brings Jimmy into her circle and, after failed attempts to get him signed, introduces him to Chas Chandler, bassist for The Animals and his future manager.

Listening to the strides being made by mid-sixties British musicians, Jimmy is convinced that London is the gateway to success in America. But once there, he finds himself caught between Linda's protective grasp and the charms of a new admirer, Kathy Etchingham (Hayley Atwell). Their chemistry, if volatile, is immediately apparent. With Kathy by his side, Jimi, as he is now known, navigates London's music scene and begins to make his mark in the world of rock 'n' roll.

Director and writer Ridley (who scripted 12 Years a Slave, also premiering at the Festival) makes wonderful use of archival footage that contributes to both the film's authenticity and its emotional impact. Contemplative conversations on the class and racial politics of the 1960s rock world illuminate Jimi's hippie perspective, balancing the more intense moments that reveal his neuroses. And, with Poots and Atwell turning in layered performances, the story of the women who gave direction and support to Hendrix becomes a central part of the film. But Ridley's master stroke was casting Benjamin. Entirely natural in his performance, he knows how to allow the camera in, and can convey both the inner struggle of this troubled genius and the electric personality that would make him a star.

CAMERON BAILEY

Screenings

Sat Sep 07

Visa Screening Room (Elgin)

Regular
9:00pm
Sun Sep 08

Scotiabank 1

Press
11:45am
Sun Sep 08

The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Regular
2:15pm
Wed Sep 11

Scotiabank 2

Industry
1:15pm
Sat Sep 14

Ryerson Theatre

Regular
3:00pm