×

Apollo Theater Documentary Selected as Tribeca Festival Opener

The Tribeca Film Festival will open its 18th edition with the world premiere of the HBO Documentary Film “The Apollo,” directed by Roger Ross Williams.

The film will debut at the iconic theater in Manhattan on April 24. It includes archival footage, music, comedy and dance performances, and interviews with Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx.

The Apollo Theater is a symbol of the creative spirit of New York and beyond, and I’m very happy that we’re kicking off our 18th Festival celebrating it with this documentary from Roger Ross Williams,” said Robert DeNiro, co-founder of the festival.

The documentary is produced by Lisa Cortés, Nigel Sinclair’s White Horse Pictures, and Williams. It covers the 85-year history of the venue and follows a new production of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” as it comes to the theater.

The Apollo began operating in 1934 during the Harlem Renaissance and became the most prized venue on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” during the time of racial segregation in the United States. The Apollo was a key launch venue for Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix and the Jackson Five. Performers have included Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, Gladys Knight, Sammy Davis Jr., Billie Holiday, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Dave Chappelle, Lauryn Hill, Jimi Hendrix, and more.

“The Apollo is about so much more than just music,” Williams said. “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. I was fortunate to make my first film with HBO and I am thrilled to be coming back home with The Apollo.”

Popular on Variety

Producers are Lisa Cortés, White Horse’s Nigel Sinclair, Jeanne Elfant Festa and Cassidy Hartmann along with Williams. “The Apollo” will have additional screenings during the festival, which will run through May 5. The festival will announce its feature film slate on March 5.

More Film

  • Saoirse Ronan Awards Season Fashion

    Saoirse Ronan's Stylist Elizabeth Saltzman Creates 'Strong, Feminine Woman'

    Elizabeth Saltzman wanted Saoirse Ronan’s “Little Women” press tour looks to reflect her character: “A strong, feminine woman with a little masculinity mixed in.” In designing a Golden Globes dress, Saltzman spoke about Ronan with the Celine team. “We talked about Saoirse being effortless, sensual and cool — and not trying too hard,” she says. [...]

  • 1917 Movie

    George MacKay Talks '1917' and Filming in the Trenches

    George MacKay delivers a star-making performance in “1917.” After making his film debut at age 10 in the 2003 live-action “Peter Pan,” he played occasional film and TV roles and realized at age 19 “acting is what I wanted to do.” Since then, he’s appeared in an earlier WWI saga, “Private Peaceful,” and played Viggo [...]

  • Palm Springs Sundance

    Neon, Hulu Chasing Worldwide Rights Deal on Andy Samberg's 'Palm Springs'

    Tom Quinn’s Neon and streamer Hulu are looking to partner on a multi-million dollar, worldwide rights deal for Andy Samberg’s Sundance comedy “Palm Springs,” sources told Variety. Neon would take the film out theatrically while Hulu would retain rights for streaming customers around the world, said the insiders familiar with talks. One report valued the [...]

  • Oscar Menu to Be Almost All

    Oscar Menu to Be Almost All Plant-Based

    The Oscars are getting greener. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Monday that it will be offering entirely plant-based menus at today’s Oscar Nominees Luncheon and then in the Dolby Theatre lobbies prior to the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9. The post-ceremony Governors Ball will be 70% plant-based, and 30% [...]

  • The Joker Parasite The Irishman Best

    Will Oscar Voters Choose a Dark Movie for Best Picture or Something More Upbeat?

    Will love and mercy prevail again this year, or will one of the season’s darker offerings take home the ultimate prize? Last year, Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” triumphed, its period story about a friendship that blossoms between a boisterous white bigot and a black, highly educated classical musician an unlikely balm at a time of [...]

  • Oscar Contenders 1917 The Irishman Joker

    Will Oscar Voters Make History This Year or Reward Familiar Faces?

    Filmdom’s battle between the haves and have-nots moved off-screen when Oscar nominations were announced earlier this month: Four films scored 10 or more nominations, with Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” leading the pack with 11, and Sam Mendes’ World War I nail-biter “1917,” Martin Scorsese’s epic gangster tale “The Irishman” and Quentin Tarantino’s retro “Once Upon a [...]

  • BTS: Amy March (Florence Pugh) crew

    Hollywood Studios Target Sustainability as Big Production Goal

    Sony’s commitment to sustainability began as a pledge to plant a tree in the community where it shoots for each day of production. It’s a commitment to the environment that most Hollywood studios are taking very seriously, collaborating and sharing ideas on how to conduct the business of production in a sustainable way. Today, Sony [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content