The still-untitled movie takes a glimpse into the challenges facing a rural village in Ohio during the early days of the pandemic and grapples with the emotions erupting across the nation following the Black Lives Matter movement. It will premiere on June 19 at Radio City Music Hall, marking the first time in more than a year that the iconic New York City venue is reopening its doors.
“Premiering our film at Tribeca and closing out the festival at Radio City Music Hall is a big honor,” Chappelle said in a statement. “Our film is about courage and resilience, something New Yorkers can relate to.”
Fueled by the murder of George Floyd and unable to perform live because of the pandemic, the documentary follows Chappelle as he provides the community he calls home with two things needed in difficult times — economic and comic relief. What began as an experimental socially distanced live comedy show in a neighbor’s cornfield turned into a symbol of courage for his community and the live entertainment industry as a whole. Chappelle’s company Pilot Boy Production produced the film.
Tribeca’s co-founder Jane Rosenthal called the documentary “extraordinary.”
“We’re huge fans of Dave’s ability to make us laugh and this poignant story provides us with another look at his unique talent to bring people together and the grand re-opening of a fully-vaccinated Radio City after 18 months,” she said in a statement.
Directed by Ohio-based filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, the duo said the film signifies an important chapter in their decades-long career. They have previously collaborated on the documentaries “American Factory” and “A Lion in the House,” as well as Chapelle’s stand-up special “8:46.”
“Dave is our neighbor. We see him in the grocery store, and on the street. When Dave came to us with the idea, we were immediately struck by the challenge to tell the story of our part of the world during the pandemic and the national reckoning on racial injustice,” said Reichert. “This was a historic moment and we really wanted to chronicle this place and this time, it just felt right.”
Bognar added, “Dave and his friends entrusted our team of amazing young filmmakers from Ohio with intimate moments which enabled us to create a moving portrait of artists’ as they navigated a time of fear and isolation.”
All guests will need to be fully vaccinated to attend the Radio City Music Hall event and will need to provide proof upon entry. Exceptions will be made for children under the age of 16, who may provide proof of a negative antigen COVID-19 test or a negative PCR COVID-19 test.
“We are thrilled to get back to doing what we love and that our first show is with our great partners at Tribeca and the incomparable Dave Chappelle – who already made history at Radio City with his 2017 residency,” said James Dolan, executive chairman and CEO of MSG Entertainment. “Radio City is a special place, and we can’t wait to open our doors to fans of live entertainment who we know are eager to gather and help jumpstart the return of New York.”
The 20th annual Tribeca Film Festival will run from June 9 through June 20. In a first for the festival, Tribeca is also hosting community screenings — in both indoor and outdoor venues — in all five New York City boroughs.