Chicago's hometown hero Kanye West painted the town last night for a special occasion—the premiere of his film "Runaway." More than 300 people, including fans and friends who supported his rise to stardom, gathered at the Windy City's ICON Theater for an advance look at the film which premieres on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on MTV and BET.
The 35-minute long film boasts nine unreleased songs that drive the story of a phoenix (Selita Ebanks), the mythical bird with a penchant for fire who falls from the sky. West rescues her, but soon learns that he can't change her destiny.
Before the film began, West humbly addressed the crowd.
"For him to come home to Chicago and do this, this is a great way for redemption," said audience member and fan Sean Knight.
"It gave me a different perspective on Kanye's music and personality," another fan Bretagne Lenox added. "He has changed."
West spoke of his conviction and passion and an artist's duty to elevate culture in a way that makes things better for future generations. "Let's not let the culture down and do some awesome sh--," he urged the audience. "We need to appreciate life, look at art and take time. ... Do something because you feel so convicted."
He also said this duty was the driving force behind the movie's use of culturally significant imagery. There are ballet dancers donning traditional tutus, a lamb and deer hanging out in the backyard, and the movie's most profound symbol, the phoenix. The bird may represent West's genius and the way he is compelled by something so strong he has no choice but to move forward, or maybe it is just a simple symbol of reinvention.
But whatever the interpretation, Chicago fans agreed that West's goal of colliding culturally inspired visuals with pop music is a step in the right direction.
"It was breathtaking," said Kevin Schwarz after the screening. "The music and the imagery, there are no words. And when he talked about his perspective on parents and doing things for the future, one day I will be a father and I want to pass it on too."
Chicago was the fourth stop of his preview tour, which will continue in New York on Thursday.
Kanye West's "Runaway" will premiere on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on MTV, MTV2 and BET, and will also stream live on MTV.com, BET.com and VH1.com, followed by a live Q&A session on MTV.
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