Leading up to the 2023 Academy Awards — whose shortlist voting takes place next month, Dec. 12-15 — Lamar spoke with Variety in an interview published Tuesday (Nov. 29) about his short film We Cry Together, in which he stars opposite Taylour Paige.
For the rapper, one of the most important things about his short film was to make sure that it felt real. We Cry Together sees Lamar and Paige exploring a relationship that’s equal parts vulnerable and toxic from the confines of a small space. The film, should it secure a nomination, would be up for a spot in the best live action short category at the Academy Awards.
“It challenged me to actually live in what I was writing, and really be there and be present with Taylour [Paige],” Lamar said. “And I remember us going back and forth and feeling like, damn, I understand this character even more because I’m evoking the energy from it and the passion from it because it’s alive, and it’s direct.”
Lamar directed the short alongside Dave Free and Jake Schreier; in the interview, Free noted that “when we went into this project, Kendrick was telling me about how he wanted the room to feel thick, and the room to feel intense … He wanted to really address topics that we, as a society, kind of shy away from.”
“The Heart Part 5” rapper added, “So in writing, I say, ‘OK, how can I make this feel personal, but also holding up a mirror as a collective concept, rather than just a personal concept.’ I wanted to bring that drama because, at the end of the day, whether we like it or not — the good, the bad and the ugly, the pros and cons — that’s what makes everything evolve.”
Of the filmmaking process, Lamar stated that it allowed him to have “more freedom, as a person. Being able to run toward my fear and say the things I want to say and do it in an artistic way — it allowed me to live my truth even deeper.”
Only 10 films will make the shortlist for the Oscars’ best live action short category, before being narrowed down to the final five nominees. Lamar — who was previously nominated alongside SZA, Mark “Sounwave” Spears and Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith for an Oscar in 2019 for the Black Panther track “All the Stars” in the best original song category — will learn if We Cry Together made the cut when the shortlist is revealed on Dec. 21.
Lamar and Free are nominated for a Grammy as directors of Lamar’s “The Heart Part 5,” which is up for best music video. Lamar and Free won in that category five years ago for “Humble.,” which they co-directed with Dave Meyers.