This year’s Tribeca Film Festival is kicking off with a little showtime at the Apollo.
Harlem’s iconic performance space will host the annual New York City-based festival’s opening night on April 24 with a world-premiere screening of Oscar-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams’ The Apollo, a feature documentary providing an intimate glimpse at the history and current operations of the venue.
Long known as a Mecca for black performers, including Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, the Jackson 5, and many more, the Apollo Theater “sits at the crossroads of race, class, and culture,” per the film’s official description, which continues: “The documentary 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 also features interviews with Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx; it is set to be released on HBO later this year, though a specific date has yet to be announced.
“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,” Williams said 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. 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.”
Festival co-founder Robert De Niro added, “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.”
Tribeca previously announced that its 2019 edition would host cast and crew reunion panels and screenings of two classic films: Rob Reiner’s directorial debut, This Is Spinal Tap (which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year), and Ben Stiller’s 25-year-old freshman filmmaking effort, Reality Bites.
The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 24 through May 5. Passes and packages go on sale beginning Feb. 19 on the festival’s website, followed by the full feature film slate announcement on March 5.