Stranger Says: For 85 years, Harlem’s Apollo Theater has essentially been a mecca for black American culture. So it makes perfect sense for a filmmaker of the stature of Roger Ross Williams (God Loves Uganda) to shoot a documentary about the 1,500-capacity palace, which has showcased the zenith of black musicians, comedians, and writers. From James Brown’s immortal 1963 Live at the Apollo LP to performances by Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, this venue has been an incubator and crucible for integral black expression in myriad forms. It’s past time to revel in the Apollo’s fascinating story. (DAVE SEGAL)
SIFF Says: Archival footage onstage and backstage enriches this portrait of the iconic Harlem theater, since 1934 the epicenter of African-American achievement in performance.