Roger Ross Williams To Direct Apollo Theater Doc

Screen Daily reports that Williams and Cassidy Hartmann (The Beatles: Eight Days A WeekMole Man) wrote the film, which is shooting now in New York and chronicles the history of the Harlem venue and its musical and cultural legacy and its place in the dialogue about race and social progress in the US since 1934.

The Apollo Theater Film Project will explore the celebrated music, dance, and comedy performances that have taken place there, and the institution of ‘Amateur Night’ – the precursor to talent competitions like American Idol and The Voice – which continue to run on Wednesday nights after more than 80 years.

Lisa Cortes (Precious executive producer) has joined Nigel Sinclair of White Horse, Jeanne Elfant Festa, Cassidy Hartmann, and Williams on the producer roster.

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“The Apollo’s contribution to American culture is immeasurable, and I am incredibly honored and excited to share its story with a global audience,” Williams said. “I hope this film will not only help to preserve the theater’s rich legacy, but also show how this treasured institution is nurturing the next generation of visionary artists.”

Impact Partners is financing the project along with the Chicago Media Project, Universal Music Group’s Polygram Entertainment, MACRO, Carlene Laughlin, Dave Knott, and the Ford Foundation.

Executive producers are Nicholas Ferrall of White Horse, Julie Goldman of Motto Pictures, the Apollo Theater’s Jonelle Procope, Dan Cogan and Geralyn Dreyfous of Impact Partners, Cynthia Sexton and David Blackman of Polygram Entertainment, MACRO’s Charles D. King, Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks, as well as Jayson Jackson, and Ken Pelletier and the Lagralane Group of Chicago Media Group.


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The film is presented by Impact Partners and the Apollo Theater, in association with Chicago Media Project, Polygram Entertainment, MACRO, Bert Marcus Productions, and Motto Pictures.

“We are so proud and fortunate to be working with Roger on this incredibly powerful story,” Sinclair said. “We are also so grateful to the whole team that’s helped bring this project to fruition for the Apollo. Special thanks to Dan Cogan for his indefatigable guidance and leadership on that journey.”

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