The Apollo USA | 2019 | 101 minutes | d: Roger Ross Williams)
*SATURDAY, MAY 25 6:45 PM | SIFF Cinema Egyptian
SUNDAY, MAY 26 1:30 PM | SIFF Cinema Egyptian
MONDAY, MAY 27 3:30 PM | Shoreline Community College
The Apollo Theater has an unparalleled history. Since opening its doors in 1934, The Apollo has become arguably the most significant site of African-American cultural expression, a place of celebration, mourning, and musical exploration. Located on 125th street in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, The Apollo is an obvious choice for the documentary treatment. Few other locations capture the fabric and variety of the American popular music tradition, giving an early stage to Ella Fitzgerald, Ms. Lauryn Hill, 'Little' Stevie Wonder, among many others. Directed by Roger Ross Williams, the first African-American director to win an Academy Award (for his debut short film Music for Prudence), 2019's The Apollo engages with the complex history of the theater through the elegant use of archival footage and well-culled interviews.
The film gives special attention to the theater's Amateur Nights, which were held every Wednesday. Amidst a constantly changing popular music scene, the Amateur Nights remained essential to the theater's practice of community building, and gave many musicians a needed, if sometimes hostile, early audience. The impact of the Apollo's programming continues today with the development of a stage adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates's great "Between the World and Me." This present-day footage connects the radical cultural history of the Apollo to constant global struggles against systematic racism. The film refuses to let the viewer believe a separation between the political and artistic, an always necessary reminder.
Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation screens at SIFF, as part of the "Face the Music" series, sponsored by KEXP.
Shut Up and Play the Piano screens at SIFF, as part of the "Face the Music" series, sponsored by KEXP.
The documentary Who Let the Dogs Out strives to answer the age old question; screening at SIFF as part of KEXP's Face the Music series.