The Astroworld film Concert Crush: The Travis Scott Festival Tragedy is slated for release despite attorneys’ concerns

HOUSTON, Texas — The experiences of panicked concert-goers, gasping for air and unable to find a clear route to escape a massive crowd rush at last year’s deadly Astroworld music festival in Houston, are revealed in a documentary released Friday.

But lawyers for Live Nation, which is being sued for its role as organizer of the festival, say they are concerned that promotion of the documentary Concert Crush: The Travis Scott Festival Tragedy “could spoil the jury pool.” A gag order was issued in the case, but Live Nation’s attorneys say an attorney who has filed lawsuits related to the tragedy also co-produced the documentary. A spokesman for Scott, who is also being sued, was also critical.

SEE ALSO: Congressmen launch investigation into Live Nation’s role in deadly Astroworld festival

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 job is to make the most truthful, honest and candid documentary from the victim’s perspective… We need to know about these stories to prevent it from happening again,” Minn told The Associated Press.

Around 500 lawsuits were filed after the November 5 concert, which was headlined by Scott, a popular rapper. Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during the massive onslaught.

The documentary, which will be shown in 11 Texas cities including Austin, Dallas and Houston, includes interviews with several people who survived the stampede. It also includes cell phone videos of concert goers, in which people can be heard screaming for help over and over again.

“It’s hard to explain to friends and family what we saw and what we actually went through, and I think[the documentary]will give a lot of people a chance to understand if you weren’t there,” Frank said Alvarez, who attended the concert, does not appear in the film.

The film shows what concertgoers experienced and what led to the tragedy, said Minn, who has also made documentaries about the fatal shooting at a high school in suburban Houston and the violence at the US-Mexico border.

SEE ALSO: Upcoming documentary about Santa Fe High School tells stories of survivors and victims

The film suggests Scott could have done more to prevent the conditions that led to the casualties, but Minn said it wasn’t a “hit against Travis Scott.” He said it also questions whether others, including Live Nation and Houston police, could have done more to improve security or respond to the danger more quickly. Minn said Scott, Live Nation and the Houston Police Department declined to be interviewed for the documentary. The Houston Police Department is investigating the disaster.

In a report released this month, a task force set up by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott uncovered issues with permits for such events and called for “clearly defined triggers” to stop such a show.
Live Nation’s attorneys expressed their concerns in a letter this month to District Judge Kristen Hawkins, who handles all pre-trial matters in the court cases.

“The involvement of plaintiffs’ attorneys in the film, and the publicity the filmmakers and producers are attempting to generate about it, raises significant questions about efforts to defile the jury,” wrote Neal Manne and Kevin Yankowsky, two attorneys for Live Nation the letter.

But the attorneys have not asked Hawkins to take any specific action regarding the documentary.

Manne and Yankowsky did not respond to emails seeking comment. Live Nation has said it is “heartbreaking” about what happened but has denied responsibility.

In a statement, a spokesman for Scott criticized the documentary’s conclusions “which falsely blame Mr. Scott for the heartbreaking tragedy that transpired.” The statement also criticized the involvement in the film of attorneys who have filed lawsuits in the case, saying the film’s goal is “to influence future juries and public opinion.” The announcer didn’t know if Scott saw the documentary.

“Mr. Scott remains focused on his philanthropic work in his hometown of Houston and in lower-income black communities across the country, both of which are longstanding efforts,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Cassandra Burke Robertson, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said she would be shocked if the judge took action on the documentary over First Amendment concerns, even with the gag order.

“I think the public interest here in investigating what happened and avoiding similar tragedies in the future, that’s a really big interest. That will likely outweigh the interests of the outcome of each lawsuit,” Robertson said.

Brent Coon, an attorney representing about 1,500 concert-goers who was interviewed in the documentary, said he doesn’t think the film would affect the ability to choose an impartial jury if the case goes to trial, which is years away could last.

“I don’t think any lawyer in this case could fan the flames very much to change … what the public perception of all this is going to be like,” Coon said.

Robertson, who is not involved in the litigation, said the fact that one of the film’s co-producers, Rick Ramos, is representing concert-goers who have filed lawsuits could raise some ethical concerns. It was unclear how Ramos benefited financially from his involvement in the documentary.

SEE ALSO: 1st Civil Claims Trial at Astroworld Festival

Ramos declined to comment Thursday.

“Personally, I wouldn’t support something like that during a pending civil case. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just something I wouldn’t do,” Coon said.

Minn said the questions asked about Ramos’ participation were valid, but he never hid his involvement.

“People have to see the film and judge what that is,” Minn said.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The Astroworld film Concert Crush: The Travis Scott Festival Tragedy is slated for release despite attorneys’ concerns

Dais Johnston

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