The HBO documentary THE APOLLO, helmed by Oscar- and Emmy-winning director Roger Ross Williams (LIFE, ANIMATED; GOD LOVES UGANDA; HBO’s MUSIC BY PRUDENCE), chronicles the unique history and contemporary legacy of New York City’s landmark Apollo Theater. Over the last 85 years, what began as a refuge for marginalized artists has emerged as a hallowed hall of black excellence and empowerment.
The feature-length film weaves together archival clips of music, comedy and dance performances from an astonishing list of legendary talents that includes Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Richard Pryor and Lauryn Hill; behind-the-scenes verité footage of the team that makes the theater run; and interviews with such artists as Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett, Pharrell Williams, Common, Patti LaBelle and Smokey Robinson. Williams also examines the current state of race in America, following the 2018 multi-media adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best-selling book “Between the World and Me” as it comes together on the theater’s grand stage. In the film, Williams explores not only the struggle of black lives in America, but the role that art plays in that struggle, and the essential part the Apollo continues to play in the cultural conversation, lighting the path forward.