TORONTO: Documentary filmmaker Chris Moukarbel took Toronto film festival audiences backstage to meet the real Lady Gaga, sketching raw humanity at the height of stardom. It might also be the last glimpse of the singer for a while, as Gaga told a press conference she aims to take a break after her fifth headlining concert Joanne World Tour ends in mid-December.
“I’m gonna take a rest, I don’t know how long,” she said. “I’m looking forward to reflecting and slowing down for a moment, and healing.”
Gaga has stamped her mark on the last decade of popular music, fusing a range of club music with glam rock and pop to create a unique sound, fused with outrageous fashions and glamor.
At the same time, by confessing her own traumas, she has inspired countless marginalized young people to manifest their gender, sexuality and identity. Gaga namely revealed in 2012 that she wrestled with bulimia and anorexia from the age of 15, prompting a debate on social media and beyond. The Netflix documentary film “Gaga: Five Foot Two” is an intimate look into the personal life of Gaga, born Stefani Joanne Germanotta.
Gaga “shows so much humanity in the film,” said Moukarbel.
“It comes out in (her) music and interviews, but this was a way to consolidate a lot of that vision and let people have access to (her) as a person,” he said.
“I think in a lot of ways people will learn from it. For young women and girls, I think (it’s) a story of what it means to be both powerful and vulnerable, and be generous.” The film opens with Gaga having just turned 30, reflecting on breakups, a squabble with Madonna and how to redefine herself.
Moukarbel follows the artist as she recovers from the mixed reviews of her “Artpop” album and pushes herself to deliver its 2016 followup, “Joanne.”
But the physical demands of constant performances and her pursuit of the highest standards night after night take their toll.
“I’m a woman struggling now, instead of a girl,” Gaga says in the film.
During the press conference, she teared up when asked about her struggle with chronic pain, which forced her to cancel a September 4 performance in Montreal, Canada.
“There is an element and a very strong piece of me that believes pain is a microphone,” said Gaga.
“My pain really does me no good unless I transform it into something that is. I hope that people watching (the film) that struggle with chronic pain know they are not alone.”
It has been a decade since Lady Gaga emerged as one of the top music stars in the world, with hits such as “Bad Romance” and “Born This Way.”
Over that period, she has sold an estimated 27 million albums and 146 million singles worldwide.
She also recently played live at the Super Bowl – a climactic moment in her career, she confesses – and just wrapped a remake of “A Star is Born,” co-starring Bradley Cooper, which is scheduled to be released next year.
After the Toronto film festival screening late Friday, Gaga was scheduled to perform live for a relatively small audience, after two sold-out arena shows Wednesday and Thursday here in Canada’s biggest city.
“It’s a wonderful time (in my life), a very real time,” Gaga said.
She acknowledged challenging moments.
“But that’s not to say there weren’t extreme highs,” Gaga said.
“My life has completely changed in the most wonderful way (in the past decade) that I would never take back, but it also included the lowest lows.”