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Part of Doc Stories film series

Opening Night: The Apollo

Directed by Roger Ross Williams

USA | Documentary | 102

1 Nov
Fri, Nov 1, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Guests Expected

Director Roger Ross Williams, producer Lisa Cortés, and musician Fantastic Negrito are expected to attend.


Special musical introduction by Fantastic Negrito!

As a showcase for black music and culture in America, Harlem’s Apollo Theater is unparalleled. Director Roger Ross Williams traces its history with bountiful archival footage from the venue, using pivotal moments in black civic history for context, and preparations for a star-studded presentation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me to show its continued relevance. Filled with a riveting parade of performances and interviews, including Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Eartha Kitt, Aretha Franklin, Savion Glover, and Redd Foxx, The Apollo pays tribute to a venerable and indispensable American institution.

“The theater embodies the neighborhood, the neighborhood embodies a resilient people, and their creativity tells the story in its own words and songs. Williams assembles bountiful archival footage and talking heads as he tracks the growth of Harlem from ‘a wayward station for former slaves’ to ‘the only game in town for African American entertainers’ across many generations.” —Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Director Roger Ross Williams

Director/screenwriter/producer Roger Ross Williams began his career in television, working at Comedy Central and for Michael Moore’s satirical show TV Nation. He has created documentary series and specials for such networks as the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and the Discovery Channel. In 2010 he won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short with Music by Prudence, about the disabled Zimbabwean singer Prudence Mabhena. He directed the feature documentary God Loves Uganda (SFFILM Festival 2013), involving American anti-gay fundamentalists in that African nation, and Life, Animated (SFFILM Festival 2016), about a young autistic man’s fascination with Disney films.


Film Details

Language English

Year 2019

Runtime 102

Country USA

Director Roger Ross Williams

Producer Lisa Cortés, Jeanne Elfant Festa, Cassidy Hartmann, Roger Ross Williams

Editor Jean Tsien, John S. Fisher

Cinematographer Michael Dwyer

Music Robert Glasper

Print Source HBO Documentary Films