I'm Still Here (2010 film)

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I'm Still Here
I'm Still Here poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Casey Affleck
Produced by
Written by
  • Casey Affleck
  • Joaquin Phoenix
Music by Marty Fogg
  • Casey Affleck
  • Magdalena Gorka
Edited by
They Are Going to Kill Us Productions
Flemmy Productions[1]
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release date
  • September 6, 2010 (2010-09-06) (Venice Film Festival)
  • September 10, 2010 (2010-09-10) (United States)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $568,963[2]

I'm Still Here is a 2010 American mockumentary[3] comedy-drama film directed by Casey Affleck, and written by Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix. The film purports to follow the life of Phoenix, from the announcement of his retirement from acting, through his transition into a career as a hip hop artist.[4] Filming officially began on January 16, 2009 at a Las Vegas nightclub.[5] Throughout the filming period, Phoenix remained in character for public appearances, giving many the impression that he was genuinely pursuing a new career.

The film premiered at the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 6, 2010.[6] It had a limited release in the United States on September 10, 2010 before being expanded to a wide release a week later on September 17,[7] although widely suspected to be a "mockumentary", the fact that the events of the film had been deliberately staged was not disclosed until after the film had been released.[3]


In 2008, while rehearsing for a charity event, actor Joaquin Phoenix, with Casey Affleck's camera watching, tells people he's quitting to pursue a career in rap music, over the next year, we watch the actor write, rehearse, and perform to an audience. He importunes Sean Combs in hopes he'll produce the record. We see the actor in his home: he parties, smokes, bawls out his two-man entourage, talks philosophy with Affleck, and comments on celebrity.



The film premiered at the 67th Venice International Film Festival on September 6, 2010.[6] It had a limited release in the United States on September 10, 2010 before being expanded to a wide release a week later on September 17,[7] although widely suspected to be a "mockumentary", the fact that the events of the film had been deliberately staged was not disclosed until after the film had been released.[3]



According to Phoenix, the film arose from his amazement that people believed reality television shows' claims of being unscripted. By claiming to retire from acting, he and his friend and brother-in-law Casey Affleck planned to make a film that "explored celebrity, and explored the relationship between the media and the consumers and the celebrities themselves" through their film.[8]

After surprising Hollywood by abruptly announcing his retirement in late 2008, allegedly in order to focus on his music,[9][10] Phoenix and Affleck began filming the documentary, which followed Phoenix as he began a career making hip-hop music while allegedly managed by rap icon Sean "Diddy" Combs.[11]

David Letterman[edit]

Shortly after making his rap debut in mid-January 2009,[12] Phoenix appeared on Late Show with David Letterman to promote what he claimed was his last film, Two Lovers, during the show, a bearded, unkempt, sunglasses-wearing Phoenix seemed incoherent and was largely unresponsive towards David Letterman's questions about the film and his acting career. When the audience laughed at his hip-hop aspirations, Phoenix complained to Letterman that he was being serious.[13][14]

In an interview given earlier the same day for CinemaBlend.com, Phoenix seemed completely coherent.[15] Many rumors circulated that his Late Show appearance had been a hoax, to which Phoenix stated "This is not a joke. Might I be ridiculous? Might my career in music be laughable? Yeah, that's possible, but that's certainly not my intention."[16] Ben Stiller, who appears in the movie pitching Greenberg, parodied Phoenix's appearance, posture and performance as an awards co-presenter at the 81st Academy Awards ceremony. One of Letterman's writers, Bill Scheft, later stated that Letterman was in on the joke during the interview,[17] but when asked by Roger Ebert about that writer's claim, Casey Affleck stated: "That man seems unreliable. If Dave knew about something it was not because Joaquin or I told him anything."[18]

After Affleck stated in September 2010 that I'm Still Here was a hoax,[19] a clean-shaven, well-dressed, and friendly Phoenix returned to Late Show to promote the film. Both he and Letterman denied that the host had any foreknowledge of the mockumentary or that the previous interview was scripted. Phoenix said that he expected people would realize that a "35-year-old that says he's retiring from acting" was making "a joke," and that he did not expect the amount of attention his announcement and his Letterman interview would receive. Letterman replayed the end of the previous interview, saying "At the end of our chat, the last time you were here, you... broke character; you were the dope in the beard, and then, at the end of the segment, you took off your sunglasses, and everything was fine." Phoenix said Affleck was angry at him for doing this.[8]

Tie to rock band Spacehog[edit]

In the film, Spacehog guitarist Antony Langdon, one of Phoenix's assistants and a musical partner,[20] stages a falling-out with the actor during the documentary's filming and is shown defecating on the troubled actor in retaliation for earlier verbal abuse; in fact, the "feces" was a combination of hummus and coffee grounds. The mixture was inserted into a tube that was taped onto Antony Langdon's back that went down to his backside;[21] in an earlier part of the film, Langdon appears fully nude after getting out of the shower. The name of Langdon's group Spacehog is not mentioned in the film, but a clip of the band performing on television is shown. Singer and bassist Royston Langdon is also credited for one of the film's songs.[22][23]


In May 2010, the film was shown to potential buyers, the Los Angeles Times reported that the film featured "more male frontal nudity than you’d find in some gay porn films and a stomach-turning sequence in which someone feuding with Phoenix defecates on the actor while he’s asleep". Also, the film is said to depict Phoenix "snorting cocaine, ordering call girls, having oral sex with a publicist, treating his assistants abusively and rapping badly." Reportedly film buyers, after seeing it, were still uncertain whether it was a serious documentary or a mockumentary.[24]

Upon its release I'm Still Here had a 54% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[25] Critics were divided on whether to interpret the film as documentary or performance art.[26][27][28] Box Office Mojo reported a worldwide gross of $568,963 as of June 2011.


An article in the Relevant Magazine suggested that the title is a reference to Todd Haynes's I'm Not There. [29]


  1. ^ "Flemmy Productions Production Company". ProductionBeast. 
  2. ^ "I'm Still Here (2010) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 23, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Affleck Says Phoenix Documentary Wasn't Real", New York Times, Sept. 17, 2010
  4. ^ "I'm Still Here". Magnolia Pictures. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  5. ^ Kit, Borys (January 16, 2009). "Casey Affleck helming Joaquin Phoenix doc". The Hollywood Reporter. e5 Global Media. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "La Biennale di Venezia – I'm Still Here". Venice Film Festival. Archived from the original on August 27, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b Fleming, Mike (July 14, 2010). "Magnolia Will Platform Joaquin Phoenix Mockumentary By Casey Affleck Sept. 10". Deadline.com. Archived from the original on August 27, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Late Show with David Letterman, 22 September 2010.
  9. ^ "Joaquin Phoenix Calls It a Career? – E! Online". Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  10. ^ Warner Bros. Online (2010-09-02). "Joaquin Phoenix: Leaving the Silver Screen? | Extra". Extratv.warnerbros.com. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  11. ^ Casey Affleck (2010-09-02). "Casey Affleck Joaquins the Line With Phoenix Doc". E! Online. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  12. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2010-09-02). "Joaquin Phoenix’s Next Big Role: Rapper (Co-Signed by Diddy?)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2010-01-03. 
  13. ^ Thomson, Katherine. (2009-2-11), Joaquin Phoenix's Bizarre Letterman Appearance: (VIDEO), The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-2-11.
  14. ^ Ryan, Maureen. (2009-2-11), Weird star alert: Joaquin Phoenix mystifies David Letterman, Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2009-2-12.
  15. ^ Rich, Katey. (2009-02-13), Interview: Joaquin Phoenix, CinemaBlend.com. Retrieved 2009-02-15.
  16. ^ "Phoenix confirms he's walking the hip-hop line". Archived from the original on 2009-02-07. 
  17. ^ Powers, Lindsay (2010-09-17). "Letterman knew Joaquin Phoenix was faking: writer". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  18. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Casey Affleck levels about "I'm Still Here"". Roger Ebert's Journal. Sun Times. 
  19. ^ "Director Casey Affleck Confirms Joaquin Phoenix 'Documentary' Isn't Real" from Yahoo! News
  20. ^ Joaquin Phoenix Quits Acting to Pursue Music
  21. ^ "I'm Still Here IMDB Trivia". IMDB. 
  22. ^ "Joaquin Phoenix movie turns Spacehog guitarist into exhibitionist". ShortFormBlog. Archived from the original on December 31, 2010. 
  23. ^ "Is That the Guitarist From Spacehog Pooping on Joaquin Phoenix?". New York Magazine. 
  24. ^ John Horn (2010-09-02). "Joaquin Phoenix documentary: Even buyers aren't sure if it's a prank : Los Angeles Times: 24 Frames". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  25. ^ "I'm Still Here Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  26. ^ Robinson, Tasha. "I’m Still Here | Film | Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  27. ^ Turan, Kenneth (2010-09-10). "Joaquin Phoenix, 'Still Here' (But Not All There?)". NPR. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  28. ^ Campbell, Christopher (2010-09-08). "Review: I'm Still Here – The Moviefone Blog". Cinematical.com. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  29. ^ "I'm Still Here Is the new film about Joaquin Phoenix a hoax or real?". Retrieved 2015-08-15. 

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