Opening night’s film reverent nod to African American contributions to entertainment industry

Kemi Osukoya


April 24, 2019

One of the world’s most prominent film festivals, Tribeca Film Festival, will open its door to the public Wednesday’s night at the famed Apollo Theater in New York City with a debut screening of HBO’s anticipated documentary, The Apollo, a reverent nod to African American culture, contributions to  the entertainment industry.

The festival, now on its 18th year run as an eminent showcase platform for independent filmmakers, actors and storytellers to debut their films to a wider audience outside of the film industry, has morphed from what began in spring 2002 as a community gathering-effort to rejuvenate the spirits of communities in New York City following the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan to reimagine cinematic experience and how art can unite communities. The festival also marks the beginning of film festival season around the world.

Films and filmmakers from four African countries: Cameroon, Egypt, Malawi and Uganda will make their premiere at the festival along with more than 30 other films from African American and African diaspora filmmakers, including the world premiere of short documentary film from Malawi titled Lazarus, directed by David Darg, featuring Lazarus Chigwandali, a street musician with Albinism who teamed up with a London-based music producer to record his debut album.

HBO’s The Apollo, directed by Roger Williams is a documentary that spotlights the influence of the famed Apollo Theater as a cultural anchor for Harlem, and African American as well as its contributions to the entertainment and film industries and American culture as a whole.

This year, the festival is also unveiling a new program it dubbed Tribeca X: A Day of Conversations, an event that convenes industry leaders and creators from brands, agencies and filmmaking to examine the achievements distinctive in their work. The program, which will make its debut on Friday, April 26, will explore storytelling at the crossroads of advertising and entertainment.

Paula Weinstein, Executive Vice President of Tribeca Enterprises said the debut of the event this year reflects the current intersection “as brands continue to push the boundaries of creativity and tell deeper stories, we are excited to debut this event and bring leaders in entertainment and advertising together at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.”

“As festival programmers, we are keenly aware of the potential for an incredible film to move an audience, inspire action, and effect change,” said Festival Director Cara Cusumano.  “It has been rewarding to see brands embracing this transformative power of cinematic storytelling in how they communicate with consumers, empowering innovative filmmakers along the way.”

The festival also announced it will give out four awards this year instead of its usual one award. The four awards for best feature film, short film, episodic, and VR will be given during 4th Annual Tribeca X Award.

The finalists are: T


Almost Human: Notes on the human condition by 10 scientist and a robot. Stephen Fry narrates Jeppe Rønde’s visionary science essay, where the artistic ambitions have intergalactic dimensions.

Director: Jeppe Ronde

Artifishal: The Road to Extinction is Paved with Good Intentions, a film about the fight for wild fish and rivers. It explores wild salmon’s slide towards extinction and the financial, social and ecological costs of human arrogance.

Director: Josh “Bones” MurphyB

Uncle Drew:After draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic streetball tournament in Harlem, Dax is dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks. Desperate to win the tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend Uncle Drew, and convinces him to return to the court one more time.

Director: Charles Stone IIIE


The Face of Distracted Driving – Forrest:Tells the story of Forrest Cepeda, a 16-year-old boy who was killed in a distracted driving accident.

Director: Errol Morris

Hometown:Billy Durney’s hard work towards his dream restaurant came to an unexpected halt when Sandy hit. But that didn’t stop him from helping his Brooklyn community. He lifted spirits with damn good barbecue.

Director: Greg Kohs

SISTERHOOD: “Action”:On the eve of their 16th birthday, a group of friends get stuck on a boat. As they wait for dawn, they project their hopes for the world over the next sixteen years.

Director: Amirah Tajdin

Universal Machine:A meditation on the ultimate fate of humanity’s relationship with technology. The film follows a gifted young woman who awakens into a post-apocalyptic world and must transcend a violent confrontation with a lifelike Artificial Intelligence.

Director: Daniel Askill


History of Memory:From Florida to India, Beijing to New Orleans, History of Memory is a documentary series about people whose lives were forever altered by the discovery, creation, or preservation of one photograph.

Director: Sarah Klein, Tom Mason

Walls Are Meant For Climbing:Since 1966, we’ve seen walls not as obstacles but as opportunities. They are a chance to explore what we believe to be possible. They are a vertical proving ground for grit, perseverance, and determination. This series celebrates the walls that unite us not divide us.

Director: Landon Bassett

Wu-Tang In Space Eating Impossible Sliders:The online mini-series features Wu-Tang artists eating White Castle’s Impossible Sliders while orbiting Earth answering questions from fans. The setting represents Impossible Foods’ vision for having such an impact on the planet you can see it from outer space.

Director: Sam Spiegel


The 100%:An immersive experience following the harrowing and inspirational journey of Maggie Kurdirka, a ballet dancer and rising star at the Joffrey Concert Group, who at 23 years old was diagnosed with incurable stage four metastatic breast cancer.

Director: Hernan Barangan

Decisions: Party’s Diageo’s “Decisions: Party’s Over” demonstrates the company’s commitment to social responsibility through innovative VR technology that engages consumers in a first-person, 360° immersive story about the dangers of binge drinking.

Director: Patrick Meegan