Now in its 18th year, the Tribeca Film Festival is continuing to uphold a newish tradition: the April edition of the festival will once again open with a decidedly New York-centric documentary, following recent openers like “Love, Gilda,” “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives,” “The First Monday in May,” and “Live From New York!” This year’s fest will open with Roger Ross Williams’ “The Apollo,” a loving chronicle of the eponymous New York landmark.
The festival will open on April 24 with the world premiere of the new documentary — held at the Apollo Theater itself, as is only appropriate — which will be available later this year on HBO. Per its official synopsis, “the feature-length documentary weaves together archival footage, music, comedy and dance performances, and behind-the-scenes verité with the team that makes the theater run.” The film features interviews with a number of artists, including Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx.
The film will specifically follow “a new production of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘Between the World and Me’ as it comes to the theater’s grand stage. The creation of this vibrant multi-media stage show frames the way in which ‘The Apollo’ explores the current struggle of black lives in America, the role that art plays in that struggle and the broad range of African American achievement that the Apollo Theater represents.”
“We’re excited to finally be going uptown to play the Apollo,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder and CEO of the Tribeca Film Festival in an official statement. “‘The Apollo’ gives audiences an inside look at the major role this institution has played for the past 85 years. It’s seen the emergence of everything from Jazz to R&B to Soul and Gospel — all quintessential American music genres, and this is the time to remind people of our nation’s rich history.”
Added Oscar- and Emmy-winning filmmaker Williams, “‘The Apollo’ is about so much more than just music, it’s about how we used music and art to lift ourselves out of oppression. The story of the Apollo is the story of the evolution of black American identity and how it grew to become the defining cultural movement of our time.”
The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival runs April 24 – May 5. The full feature film slate will be announced on March 5. “The Apollo” will have additional screenings during the festival. Passes and packages to attend the festival go on sale on February 19, 2019.