Academy Award® winning director Roger Ross Williams’ film celebrates the historic New York City cultural landmark where musical legends were discovered
Features interviews with Pharrell Williams, Jamie Foxx, Patti LaBelle, Ta-Nehisi Coates and more
NEW YORK, NY – February 13, 2019 – The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, will open its 18th edition with the world premiere of the HBO Documentary Film The Apollo. Helmed by Academy and Emmy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams, The Apollo chronicles the unique history and contemporary legacy of the New York City landmark, the Apollo Theater. The film will debut at the iconic theater itself on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 and later this year on HBO. 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 Apollo features interviews with artists including Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx. The documentary is produced by Lisa Cortés, Nigel Sinclair’s White Horse Pictures, and Williams. The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival runs April 24-May 5.
The Apollo covers the rich history of the storied performance space over its 85 years and follows 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.
The Apollo Theater is internationally renowned for having influenced American and pop culture more than any other entertainment venue. The space has created opportunities for new talent to be seen and has served as a launchpad for a myriad of artists including Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5, Luther Vandross, Dave Chappelle, Lauryn Hill, Jimi Hendrix, and more.
“We’re excited to finally be going uptown to play the Apollo,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder and CEO of the Tribeca Film Festival. “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. ”
“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,“ commented director Roger Ross Williams. “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. Premiering at The Tribeca Film Festival, at the Apollo Theater in Harlem is a dream come true.”
“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 Tribeca Co-Founder Robert De Niro.
The Apollo, directed by Academy Award-winning and Tribeca alumnus Roger Ross Williams (Music by Prudence; Life, Animated) and is produced by Lisa Cortés (Precious), White Horse’s Nigel Sinclair (George Harrison: Living in the Material World; Undefeated), Jeanne Elfant Festa (Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, Pavarotti) and Cassidy Hartmann (The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Pavarotti) along with Williams.
The Apollo will have additional screenings during the Festival. Passes and packages to attend the Festival go on sale on February 19, 2019.
The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival will announce its feature film slate on March 5.
About The Filmmakers:
The producers Lisa Cortés, Nigel Sinclair, Jeanne Elfant Festa, Cassidy Hartmann and Roger Ross Williams have assembled an outstanding creative team with editors Jean Tsien, ACE (Miss Sharon Jones!, Shut Up & Sing) and John S. Fisher and Grammy-Award-winning composer Robert Glasper (Miles Ahead, 13th) who is composing the score. Hartmann and Tsien also co-wrote the documentary.
Nicholas Ferrall of White Horse and Dan Cogan of Impact Partners are Executive producing the film alongside Julie Goldman of Motto Pictures, and the Apollo Theater’s Jonelle Procope. Jenny Raskin and Geralyn Dreyfous will also Executive Produce for Impact Partners, along with the Embrey Family Foundation, the Lagralane Group, and Ken Pelletier. Carlene C. Laughlin and Dave Knott are also Executive Producing. Cynthia Sexton and David Blackman will Executive Produce for Polygram Entertainment. MACRO’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth, and Poppy Hanks will also executive produce, along with Jayson Jackson.
Impact Partners is financing the film along with the Chicago Media Project, Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, MACRO, 164 OWR, Bert Marcus Productions, and the Ford Foundation.
About Tribeca Film Festival past opening nights:
Since its inception 18 years ago, Tribeca Film Festival has opened with a range of films, both narrative and documentary, that celebrate cinema and storytelling: 2018 – Love, Gilda(Documentary); 2017 – Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives (Documentary); 2016 – The First Monday in May (Documentary); 2015 – Live from New York! (Documentary) with a live performance from Ludacris; 2014 – Nas: Time is Ill-matic (Documentary) with a live performance from Nas; 2013 – Mistaken for Strangers (Documentary) with a live performance from The National; 2012 – The Five-Year Engagement (Narrative); 2011 – The Union (Documentary) with a live Elton John performance; 2010 – Shrek Forever After (Narrative); 2009 –Whatever Works (Narrative); 2008 – Baby Mama (Narrative); 2007 – SOS (Shorts program); 2006 – United 93 (Narrative); 2005 – The Interpreter (Narrative); 2004 – Raising Helen(Narrative); 2003 – Down with Love (Narrative); 2002 – About a Boy (Narrative).
About the Tribeca Film Festival:
The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, brings visionaries and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, VR, gaming, music, and online work. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is a platform for creative expression and immersive entertainment. The Festival champions emerging and established voices; discovers award-winning filmmakers and creators; curates innovative experiences; and introduces new technology and ideas through premieres, exhibitions, talks, and live performances.
The Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Now in its 18th year, the Festival has evolved into a destination for creativity that reimagines the cinematic experience and explores how art can unite communities. The 18th annual edition will take place April 24 – May 5, 2019.
About 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Partners:
As Presenting Sponsor of the Tribeca Film Festival, AT&T is committed to supporting the Festival and the art of filmmaking through access and innovation, while expanding opportunities to diverse creators around the globe. AT&T helps millions connect to their passions – no matter where they are. This year, AT&T and Tribeca will once again collaborate to give the world access to stories from underrepresented filmmakers that deserve to be seen. “AT&T Presents Untold Stories” is an inclusive film program in collaboration with Tribeca – a multi-year, multi-tier alliance between AT&T and Tribeca along with the year-round nonprofit Tribeca Film Institute.
The Tribeca Film Festival is pleased to announce its 2019 Partners: 23andMe, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Bai Beverages, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), BVLGARI, CHANEL, Diageo, ESPN, IMDb, Kia, Montefiore, National CineMedia (NCM), Nespresso, New York Magazine, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Prime Video Direct, PwC, Spring Studios New York, Squarespace, and Status Sparkling Wine.