Lee Daniels to helm Apollo Theater doc

The Oscar-nominated director of Precious and the creator/producer of Fox drama Empire will next take on a documentary about New York's iconic Apollo Theater.
January 29, 2016

Lee Daniels, the Oscar-nominated director of Precious and the creator/producer of Fox drama Empire, will next take on a documentary about New York’s iconic Apollo Theater.

The Apollo Theater Film Project (w/t) is to be produced by Nigel Sinclair (George Harrison: Living in the Material World) and Jeanne Elfant Festa, director of features and head of docs at White Horse Pictures, under her Piper Cub Productions banner.

The Harlem, New York-based Apollo Theater is known around the world as a major force in shaping America’s music culture. The institution’s famous performers include Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, Gladys Knight, James Brown, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Billie Holiday, as well as Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, and the Jackson Five.

Daniels and Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of the Apollo Theater, are appealing to members of the public, former audience members and Apollo fans for film footage, home movies, photographs or other memorabilia from the theater, which has enjoyed more than 80 years of live performances.

“We are asking members of the community who have been to the Apollo, who may have parents or grandparents or other family members or friends who have done so, to help us find any material – audience footage, photographs, or other memories that we can use in our documentary film,” said Daniels and Procope in a joint statement.

The team has set up a website for submissions, and notes that the project will respect the ownership of the property.

The film is backed by doc financier Impact Partners, Europe-based StudioCanal and Universal Music Group, along with The Chicago Media Project. StudioCanal is handling international distribution. Key direct territories include France, Germany, the UK and Australia, and the company’s international sales team will license the film in remaining international territories.

StudioCanal, Impact Partners and White Horse Pictures jointly represent the U.S. rights.

Executive producers include Impact’s Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous, StudioCanal chairman and CEO Didier Lupfer and executive VP of international production and acquisitions Ron Halpern. The project will be presented by the Apollo Theater and Bert Marcus Productions.


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