TIFF 2023: Who is Carlos López Estrada, and what music videos has he directed ahead of Lil Nas X's documentary

Lil Nas X’s documentary follows the singer during their ‘Long Live Montero’ World Tour in 2022

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You might not be familiar with the name, but there is no question you’ve seen some of his work while browsing YouTube or whenever you watch music videos these days. But remember the name Carlos López Estrada, who is the co-director of ‘Lil Nash X: Long Live Montero,’ screening as part of the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

‘Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero’ reads as if it’s part musical biopic, part concert film, as the synopsis for the film reads “Long Live Montero follows trailblazing rapper, singer and songwriter, Lil Nas X, as he embarks on his first ever tour. This diaristic film is an intimate portrait of an artist navigating identity, family, expectations and acceptance.”

With López Estrada assisted on directing duties by Zac Manuel, who has a litany of cinematography credits to his name, it could end up being quite the surreal film at this year's TIFF, given that Estrada has previously worked with the likes of Flying Lotus and Billie Eilish during his music video directing moments. 

Both artists have been known to push the envelope with their visuals and given Lil Nas X’s tendency to push the boundaries himself, the documentary could be a sleeper hit on this year’s festival circuit, and without question a must-see for fans of the ‘Old Town Road’ singer.

So of López Estrada’s filmography of music videos and a wide and varied selection of artists he has worked with, what are some of the best works from the director in a field that sometimes can become almost a short film in itself?

What music videos has Carlos López Estrada directed?

Billie Eilish - "When the Party's Over" (2018) 

López Estrada's direction for this music video complements Billie Eilish's hauntingly beautiful song. The video's minimalist and monochromatic visual style enhances the song's melancholic tone. It features Eilish with tears of black liquid streaming down her face, creating a surreal and eerie atmosphere.

Mitski - "Your Best American Girl" (2016) 

In this emotionally charged music video, López Estrada creates a narrative that mirrors the song's exploration of identity and cultural belonging. The video features Mitski grappling with her feelings of not fitting in, both visually and emotionally. The use of symbolism and imagery helps convey a sense of isolation and the desire to find one's place in a complex world.

Vince Staples - "FUN!" (2019) 

In collaboration with rapper Vince Staples, López Estrada directed a music video that matches the song's energetic and satirical vibe. The video features a mix of surreal and comical visuals, including oversized hands and exaggerated facial expressions. It's a playful and visually engaging representation of the song's themes, showcasing López Estrada's ability to create music videos that are both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Clipping - "Inside Out" (2017) 

López Estrada's work with the experimental hip-hop group Clipping often pushes creative boundaries. In the "Inside Out" music video, he continues to explore unconventional storytelling and visuals. The video features a mix of live-action and animation, with distorted and glitchy effects that complement the group's experimental sound. It's a testament to López Estrada's willingness to experiment with different styles and techniques to create visually striking content.

Flying Lotus - "Never Catch Me" (feat. Kendrick Lamar) (2014) 

Flying Lotus and López Estrada have pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable before, but with “Never Catch Me,” their concept of creating a thought-provoking story of life and death involves featuring children rising from their caskets and dancing at their own funerals. This narrative is deeply aligned with the song's themes, creating a poignant and memorable visual experience. The video received critical acclaim for its unique storytelling, touching on themes of mortality and the celebration of life, if not with a touch of moral panic involved too.

When does ‘Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero’ screen at TIFF 2023?

‘Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero’ will be screening as part of the Toronto International Film Festival 2023 on the following dates (times in EDT)

  • Sunday, September 10, 2023: Roy Thomson Hall, Premium, 11:00 PM EDT
  • Sunday, September 10, 2023: Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, Press & Industry, 10:00 AM EDT
  • Friday, September 15, 2023: Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, 10:30 PM EDT
  • Saturday, September 16, 2023: Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, 1:00 PM EDT
  • Monday, September 18, 2023: Scotiabank Theatre Toronto, 8:00 PM EDT

How can I get tickets to screenings at TIFF 2023?

Tickets to all screenings at this year's Toronto International Film Festival are now on sale and available directly from the festival's website.

Regular screenings are priced between $26 - $32 Canadian dollars, while premium screenings are priced between $39 - $88 Canadian dollars.