Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams’ new film celebrates the historic New York City cultural landmark where musical legends were made.
The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, will open its 18th edition with the world premiere of director Roger Ross Williams and HBO’s new documentary film The Apollo. Helmed by the Oscar and Emmy-winning Williams (Music by Prudence; Life, Animated), 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 24th, 2019 and later this year on HBO. The feature-length documentary weaves together archival footage, music, comedy, and dance performances, and behind-the-scenes moments with the team that makes the theater run.
The Apollo features interviews with artists like Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams, Smokey Robinson, and Jamie Foxx. The film is produced by Lisa Cortés (Precious), White Horses Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair (George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Undefeated), Jeanne Elfant Festa (Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, Pavarotti), Cassidy Hartmann (The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Pavarotti), and Williams. The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival runs April 24th through May 5th.
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 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 (picture below backstage at the Apollo), 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 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.
An outstanding creative team has been assembled for The Apollo, including editors Jean Tsien, ACE (Miss Sharon Jones!, Shut Up & Sing) and John S. Fisher, as well as Grammy-Award-winning musician Robert Glasper (Miles Ahead, 13th) who is composing the score. Hartmann and Tsien also serve as co-writers on the documentary.
The Apollo will have additional screenings during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Passes and packages to attend the festival go on sale on February 19th, 2019 and can be accessed here.
The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival will announce its feature film slate on March 5th.
A first look at Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard’s new documentary on Luciano Pavarotti, considered one of the most beloved opera singers of all time, has been released tonight in conjunction with the 61st Grammy Awards.
Titled Pavarotti, the film is produced by a team that includes Academy, Emmy and Grammy Award-winners Nigel Sinclair, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg and Jeanne Elfant Festa, along with David Blackman, Nicholas Ferrall and Dickon Stainer serving as executive producers. CBS Films will release it in theaters on June 7th.
Created from a combination of Luciano Pavarotti’s genre-redefining performances and granted access to never-before-seen footage, the film will give audiences an intimate portrait of the opera singer.
Pavarotti was written by Mark Monroe (The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years) and edited by Paul Crowder (Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years).
Polygram Entertainment has unveiled a quartet of music documentaries in development on the Bee Gees, the Go-Go’s, hip-hop jewelry and the origins of mixtapes, Variety has learned exclusively.
Polygram, which was revived in 2017 by Universal Music Group, rolled out details of the projects Saturday afternoon during a pre-Grammys showcase in downtown Los Angeles. Members of the Go-Go’s were in attendance along with UMG executives Michele Anthony and David Blackman and veteran film producer Frank Marshall, who’s handling the Bee Gees documentary.
Since 2017, Polygram has co-distributed Ron Howard’s “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” and developed several notable upcoming projects: a Luciano Pavarotti documentary directed by Howard, a Velvet Underground documentary directed by Todd Haynes and “Hitsville: The Making of Motown.”
The Bee Gees documentary feature is authorized by Barry Gibb and the families of his late brothers Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb. The film will be presented and fully financed by Polygram, Capitol Records and UMPG, and produced by the Kennedy/Marshall Company, White Horse Pictures and Diamond Docs. Marshall is directing and will produce with Nigel Sinclair (“Eight Days a Week”), Mark Monroe and White Horse Pictures’ Jeanne Elfant Festa.
The film, which will have complete access to all the Bee Gees archives, will follow the group, which formed in 1966 and went on to have a run of hits for another three decades.
“I have had an incredibly fortunate life and think back to the good times with my beloved brothers with a huge sense of awe,” Barry Gibb said. “And time gives us all a chance to look back and celebrate with a new perspective. I know our family is in excellent hands with Frank, Nigel and the talented team of filmmakers behind the doc. I am eternally grateful and excited to be able to share our unique journey with audiences around the world.”
Marshall told Variety that he began working on the project when he met Barry Gibb at the 2015 Grammys. He teamed up with Sinclair last year and plans to finish the film by the end of this year.
“I’ve always been impressed with the longevity of the Bee Gees,” Marshall added. “I reached out to Nigel because of ‘Eight Days a Week.’ I saw it and said ‘I want that.’”
Showtime announced Saturday that it has acquired the US rights to the untitled Go-Go’s documentary and plans to release the film later this year, while Sky Arts is the UK broadcast partner. Alison Ellwood directs the film and Corey Russell and Trevor Birney produce. The Go-Go’s rose to fame following the release of their 1981 debut album, “Beauty and the Beat.”
“We lived it and we survived it,” said the Go-Go’s. “Now, looking back on our history through this film, we can appreciate our journey, laughter, triumphs and struggles as a band. We hope this documentary will show the world what pioneers we were, and how our experience paved the way for other musicians.”
Polygram unveiled the working title Saturday for the mixtapes project — “From Scratch: How Mixtapes Changed Music Forever” — and said Def Jam and Saboteur Media are also producing with Omar Acosta directing. Acosta, Nick Quested (“Restrepo”) David Kennedy and “Mix Tape King” Tony Touch serve as producers. Touch is also the music supervisor.
The project is being launched as a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Def Jam label and will include recording of exclusive material from Def Jam artists. “From Scratch” will explore the evolution of mixtapes in which hip-hop artists and record promoters found themselves torn between the need for credibility and the piracy inherent in the medium.
A limited-edition cassette will be released by Def Jam in conjunction with the film.
The hip-hop jewelry movie, titled “Ice Cold,” is directed by Karam Gill as a production from Polygram Entertainment, Mass Appeal and Quality Control. Producers are Kevin “Coach K” Lee (Quality Control), Pierre “Pee” Thomas (Quality Control), and Daniel Seliger (UMG/Polygram).
“Ice Cold” features artists including Lil Baby, Lil Yachty Dave East, DJ Mustard, Talib Kweli, Slick Rick, Eric B & Rakim, Blocboy JB, French Montana, A-Boogie, Fetty Wap, A$AP Ferg, as well as celebrity jewelers including Ben Baller, Johnny Dang, Elliott Avianne and Mr. Flawless. Exec producers include Peter Bittenbender (Mass Appeal), Sacha Jenkins (Mass Appeal), Chris Gary (Mass Appeal), hip hop group Migos, Ethiopia Habtemariam (Motown) and Barak Moffitt (UMG).