HUSTON – Experience concert goers in a panic who couldn’t breathe and didn’t have a clear path to avoid the massive crowd in last year’s deadly Astroworld music festival in Houston is featured in a documentary coming out today.
But Live Nation lawyers, who are on trial for their role as promoters of the festival, say they are concerned that advertising the documentary “Concert Crush: The Travis Scott Festival Tragedy” could “contaminate the jury pool.” A gag order was released in the case, but Live Nation attorneys say the attorney who filed the lawsuit over the tragedy was also a co-producer of the documentary.
Charlie Minn, the film’s director, said he believes he made a balanced and fair film that tries to show the public what happened.
“My task is to make the most truthful, honest, sincere documentary from the point of view of the victim … We need to know about these stories so that it does not happen again,” Min said in an interview with the Associated Press.
About 500 lawsuits were filed following a Nov. 5 concert headlined by Scott, a popular rapper. Ten people died and hundreds of others were injured during a massive burst of crowd. Scott is also on trial.
The documentary, which opens in 11 Texas cities including Austin, Dallas and Houston, includes interviews with several people who survived the crowd surge. The film also has a video on a mobile phone, shot by concert goers, where you can hear people repeatedly shouting for help.
“It’s hard to explain to friends and family what we’ve seen and what we’ve really been through, and I think (the documentary) will allow a lot of people to understand if it weren’t for you,” said Frank Alvarez, who attended the concert. but does not appear in the film.
The film highlights what the concert goers experienced and what led to the tragedy, said Min, who also made documentaries about the fatal shooting at a high school in suburban Houston in 2018 and violence on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The film suggests that Scott could have done more to prevent the conditions that led to the casualties, but Min said it was not a “hit for Travis Scott.” He said it also questioned whether others, including Live Nation Police and Houston Police, could do more to increase security or respond more quickly to danger. Min said Scott, Live Nation and Houston police declined to be interviewed for the documentary. Houston Police investigate the disaster.
In a report released this month, a task force set up by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott found problems with permits to hold such events and called for “clear triggers” to end the show.
Live Nation’s lawyers expressed their concern in a letter this month to state district judge Kristen Hawkins, who handles all pre-trial issues in lawsuits.
“The involvement of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the film, as well as the advertisements that filmmakers and producers are trying to create for the film, are causing significant problems in trying to spoil the jury,” wrote Neil Mann and Kevin Jankowski, two of Live Nation’s lawyers. letter.
But lawyers have not asked Hawkins to take any specific action on the documentary.
Manne and Jankowski did not respond to emails asking for comment. Live Nation said it was “heartbroken” by what happened but denied responsibility.
Scott’s lawyers said in an email Thursday that they did not know if he had watched the documentary, and referred to concerns expressed by Live Nation when asked if they had any problems with it.
“Sir. Scott is still focusing on his charity work in his hometown of Houston and in low-income color communities across the country, and both are a long-standing effort,” his lawyers said.
Cassandra Burke Robertson, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said she would be shocked if a judge took any action on the documentary due to First Amendment concerns, even in connection with the plug application.
“I think the public interest in investigating what happened and avoiding similar tragedies in the future is really great. This is likely to outweigh the interests of a particular outcome of a particular lawsuit, ”Robertson said.
Brent Kuhn, a lawyer representing about 1,500 concert-goers who interviewed the documentary, said he did not think the film would affect the choice of an impartial jury when it comes to a trial that could drag on for years.
“I don’t think any lawyer in this case can open a fire to change … what the public will perceive about all this,” Kuhn said.
Robertson, who is not involved in the lawsuit, said the fact that one of the film’s co-producers, Rick Ramos, represents attendees at the lawsuits that filed the lawsuits could raise some ethical concerns. It was unclear how Ramos benefited financially from his participation in the documentary.
Ramos declined to comment on Thursday.
“Personally, I would not co-finance something like this during the civil proceedings. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just something I wouldn’t do, “Kuhn said.
Min said the questions about Ramas ’involvement were valid, but he never hid his involvement.
“People have to watch a movie and judge what it is,” Min said.