Academy- and Emmy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams’ HBO-bound documentary The Apollo, which chronicles the history and legacy of the historic theater, will open the 18th annual Tribeca Film Festival (TFF).
The feature-length HBO Documentary Film, which will debut at the New York City cultural landmark on April 24, weaves together archival footage, music, comedic and dance performances, as well as behind-the-scenes vérité with the team that runs the theater where musical giants were discovered.
The doc project will provide insight into the storied history of the performance space and follows a new production of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me as it comes to the theater’s stage.
The Apollo, which will enjoy its television premiere on HBO later this year, provides audiences an inside look at the major role this New York institution has played for the past 85 years, and 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.
The Apollo Theater has served as the launching pad for such entertainment legends as Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Luther Vandross, Dave Chappelle, Lauryn Hill, Jimi Hendrix and more.
Featured interviews in the film include acclaimed artists Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, Jamie Foxx and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others.
The Apollo is produced by Lisa Cortés, White Horse Picture’s Nigel Sinclair, Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann, along with Williams.
The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival will announce its feature film slate on March 5. The New York-set event runs April 24 to May 5.
“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,” said Williams in a statement. “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.”
“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 Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and CEO of the Tribeca Film Festival.