Dave Chappelle brings social justice, comedy to this year’s Tribeca fest

New York City’s iconic Radio City Music Hall re-opens for the first time since the pandemic to host the event

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Dave Chappelle
COMEDIAN DAVE CHAPPELLE sits with his neighbors and co-producers of his yet untitled documentary, which will close the 20th Tribeca Film Fest on June 19. This promises to be a big night for Tribeca.

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

The 2021 Tribeca Festival™, presented by AT&T, announced the World Premiere of its Closing Night film at New York City’s iconic Radio City Music Hall on Saturday, June 19, as part of Tribeca’s 12-day celebration to re-open New York and bring live entertainment back to the city.

The untitled ‘Pilot Boy Production’ documentary is produced by Dave Chappelle and produced and directed by Oscar and Emmy-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar. The film takes a glimpse into the challenges facing a rural village in Ohio during the early days of the pandemic, the emotions erupting across the nation following the Black Lives Matter movement, and the remarkable leadership of the town’s youth who started weekly marches and rallies.

“Premiering our film at Tribeca and closing out the festival at Radio City Music Hall is a big honor,” said Chappelle. “Our film is about courage and resilience, something New Yorkers can relate to.”

Fueled by the murder of George Floyd, shut-in by the closures of businesses and unable to perform around the country, the movie follows Chappelle as he provides the community he calls home with two things desperately needed in difficult times – economic and comic relief. What began as an experimental socially-distanced live comedy show in a neighbor’s cornfield grew into an unforgettable summer with his neighbors, friends and fellow comedians. Ultimately, Chappelle’s cornfield concerts would serve as a model of courage not just for his community, but for the entire live entertainment industry.

“This extraordinary documentary is the most fitting to close this historic night at Radio City Music Hall and our 20th Festival,” said Jane Rosenthal, Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Festival Co-Founder and CEO. “We’re huge fans of Dave’s ability to make us laugh and this poignant story provides us with another look at his unique talent to bring people together and the grand re-opening of a fully-vaccinated Radio City after 18 months.”

The documentarians are excited, as well. “Dave is our neighbor. We see him in the grocery store, and on the street. When Dave came to us with the idea, we were immediately struck by the challenge to tell the story of our part of the world during the pandemic and the national reckoning on racial injustice,” said Reichert.

“Dave and his friends entrusted our team of amazing young filmmakers from Ohio with intimate moments which enabled us to create a moving portrait of artists, as they navigated a time of fear and isolation,” said Bognar.

Dave Chappelle
AUDIENCE MEMBERS ENJOY the unique comedy of Dave Chappelle at a cornfield in Ohio.

Radio City Music Hall will open its doors for the first time in over a year to celebrate the one-night special event. “We are thrilled to get back to doing what we love and [pleased] that our first show is with our great partners at Tribeca and the incomparable Dave Chappelle – who already made history at Radio City with his 2017 residency,” said James Dolan, Executive Chairman and CEO of MSG Entertainment.

I have covered this festival a few times in the past, traveling to New York and participating in all the great screenings and post-screening events. It’s nothing like being in New York and also taking out time to visit Harlem, but this year I will cover the fest virtually on behalf of the Crusader and post reviews in upcoming columns. Also check our online entertainment section for additional updates and film reviews.

All guests will need to be fully vaccinated for the “Untitled: Dave Chappelle Documentary” and abide by certain stipulations, with appropriate exceptions. For more information, visit [radiocity.com/faqs].

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle

Tickets for the June 19 event are available for purchase via Ticketmaster.com and Ticketmaster Charge by Phone (1-866-858-0008). Prices range from $65.00 to $105.00. All tickets are digital and can be accessed and displayed via the Ticketmaster App. All guests should download the Ticketmaster App in advance to facilitate contactless entry.

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, Tribeca ushers in the return of live entertainment as the first major North American film festival to be held in person. Dates: June 9 – June 20, 2021.

“The Tribeca Film Festival was borne out of our mission to bring people together in the aftermath of 9/11. We’re still doing it,” said Robert De Niro, Co-Founder of Tribeca Festival.

The 12-day multi-screen, outdoor festival will span all boroughs from Battery Park to the Bronx; the East Side to the West Side; downtown to uptown and from Brooklyn to Staten Island.

For more updates on the complete list of programming, visit [tribecafilm.com/festival].

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is a National Newspaper Publishers Association ‘Entertainment Writing’ award winner, contributor to “Rust Belt Chicago” and the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.” For book information, search [https://tinyurl.com/55hxcw4v] or email: editor91210@yahoo.com.

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