The trailer to Val Kilmer’s deeply personal documentary “Val” dropped on Tuesday revealing the triumphant and occasionally turbulent life and times of the beloved actor. “Val” is set to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on July 7, 2021. The film will later have a limited release on July 23, 2021, before streaming on Amazon Prime Video beginning August 6, 2021.
Most know the actor for his numerous acclaimed roles, such as Iceman in 1986’s “Top Gun” or Doc Holliday in 1993’s “Tombstone.” Though many assume Kilmer to be as bold and brash as the characters he often plays, he is far more modest and reserved than expected. “I’ve lived a magical life. And I’ve captured quite a bit of it. I was the first guy I knew to own a video camera,” the voiceover says introducing the trailer. The accompanying footage is a stream of home video that Kilmer shot over the years, totaling more than 800 hours that were used as the basis for the documentary.
“Val” is directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo. Originally, it was Scott who began helping Kilmer digitize his extensive home video material, a process that took nearly a year. Once Kilmer’s throat cancer diagnosis derailed his plans to turn his ongoing Mark Twain play into a movie, Scott received a call from Poo regarding the home footage, insisting it deserved standalone attention.
“I was pretty much floored,” Poo said. “The more of it you get to see, the more you understand who he is now,” added Scott. “There was always a sense that he was interested in his own craft. You got the sense from the material that he was knowingly, wisely, gathering some of these things for a bigger story one day.”
It’s Kilmer’s ongoing battle with throat cancer that provides the uncertain third act of the actor’s story. He struggles to speak, having had a tracheotomy procedure in 2020. The film’s narration, which sounds strikingly similar to the actor, is actually voiced by his son, Jack.
“Val always said he didn’t see it as a documentary,” Scott said. “He saw it as a movie starring Val Kilmer as the main character in the story about his life, and we all aligned on that feeling.”
The Cannes premiere for “Val” completes a cycle for the project. “Before we had made anything,” Poo said, “Val was like, ‘And then we’ll show it at Cannes.’”