In what has become a Hollywood tradition ever since the great Robert De Niro first helped launch it back in 2002, Tribeca Film Festival took over New York City earlier this month with an astounding amount of films, documentaries, shorts and even panel discussions curated exclusively for and by Black voices.
Tribeca went as far as giving the activation its own theme titled “Expressions of Black Freedom.” Many of the projects with Black leads, directors or a combination of both were given a spotlight throughout the 11-day presentation, and we were on the grounds to officially confirm that every single one was a viewing experience.
For those planning on taking advantage of the Tribeca At Home offering, which gives you access to all the projects shown at this year’s festival, we put together a list of 10 great stories by Black voices that truly captivated our attention while running from theater to theater — the premiere parties weren’t too bad either! From the highly-anticipated premiere of The Blackening at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, to Gabrielle Union and co. literally turning heads with Black girl magic on the red carpet for The Perfect Find at Tribeca’s go-to BMCC Theater, we were highly represented out amongst the big stars in the Big Apple.
Below you’ll see previews for films and documentaries that are either now currently in theaters, on streaming services or arriving soon on one or the other at a later date. From romantic comedies to profiles on music icons, and even a few that may bring a tear to your eye, we think we covered the best that Black voices at Tribeca Film Festival had to offer this year.
For those looking to decide for themselves, you can still get a pass to Tribeca At Home from now until July 2.
Keep scrolling to see our official selections at Tribeca Film Festival 2023 from a handful of creatives in Black Hollywood. Get the popcorn ready:
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“The Star-Spangled Banner”, written in 1814 using the melody of an old British tune, is a song that evokes a range of emotions from patriotic pride to cynicism and terror. But what would the national anthem sound like if it was based on American music? Anthem follows composer and pianist Kris Bowers and producer Dahi as they journey across the country to find out.
Aspiring singer Jodi Jackson (Tony nominee Hailey Kilgore) has a big voice and dreams to match but struggles to make ends meet as a gas station attendant whose boss (Damon Wayans) may not be on the up and up. Enter charming small-time crook Eddie (David Iacono). He would do anything to make her dreams come true. The two lovers hatch a plan to change their lives, but as the old proverb goes, “We plan, God laughs.” What follows is a journey in which they both must use their wits to survive.
3. ‘For Khadija: French Montana’
French Montana is many things, including an entrepreneur and Grammy-nominated rapper. But what did it take for a hungry talent from Africa to reach those lofty heights? The Moroccan-born and New York-bred multi-platinum artist behind hits such as Pop That, Unforgettable, and No Stylist is giving us a deeper look through his lens. This globe-spanning showcase provides views of French we haven’t seen, including the unbreakable bond he shares with his single mother, Khadija.
4. ‘Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive’
Gloria Gaynor forever cemented her place in popular culture with the disco classic “I Will Survive”. In the four decades since, her career has been stalled by health issues, as well as abuse and mismanagement from her now ex-husband. Yet in keeping with the title of her most famous song, Gaynor struggles onward as she works to release a new gospel album in her seventies.
5. ‘The Blackening’
Seven Black friends reunite at a cabin in the woods to celebrate Juneteenth. They ignite in friendly banter as they arrive, referencing old jokes like they just saw each other yesterday. But as night falls, things begin to go awry in the picturesque cabin. Lights go out and a masked archer stalks them from outside. Once they’re trapped in a room, the group must play the ultimate game: figure out who among them is the Blackest — or else they all die. So, who exactly is the Blackest of them all? And who will make it through the night?
6. ‘The Perfect Find’
Looking for a fresh start, former fashion editor Jenna Jones (Gabrielle Union) takes on a new gig with her old archnemesis and current media mogul, Darcy Vale (Gina Torres). Even with little social media experience Jenna finds success at her new digital magazine, and when a younger videographer (Keith Powers) catches her eye, she thinks things are finally turning around — until she finds out, he’s the boss’s son.
7. ‘Rise: The Siya Kolisio Story’
Leaders are born out of many circumstances, including the need to grow up fast. Siya Kolisi had no other choice in the harsh challenges of his upbringing. Trials and tribulations gave way to a leader, and fittingly, the first Black captain of the South Africa national rugby union team. Hear from the man himself alongside family, friends, teammates, and more, as they weave together the grand tale of just who and what makes the Springboks legend so incomparable.
8. ‘Lost Soulz’
Sol (Sauve Sidle) is an aspiring young rapper living with his best friend Wesley (Siyanda Stillwell), whose family has embraced him as a brother. After a raucous night causes Wesley to overdose, Sol abandons him at a house party, and eventually chooses to leave home for good and join a touring group of hip-hop artists. As they travel across Texas creating and performing, he discovers who he is as an artist and person.
9. ‘Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall’
Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall explores the ‘80s and ‘90s emergence of dancehall as Jamaican immigrants brought the music, dancing, and vibes of their home to New York City. Nicknamed the 15th Parish of Jamaica, New York City became home to an influential movement that saw dancehall rise alongside hip-hop and eventually spread across the country.
10. ‘Invisible Beauty’
Frédéric Tcheng, the director of 2019’s Halston, returns to Tribeca with another documentary about a fashion world titan: co-director Bethann Hardison. Featuring in-depth interviews with Hardison herself, Invisible Beauty is an elegant account of the model-turned-fashion industry insider’s life and career, culminating in her tireless advocacy for more diversity both on the runway and off.