‘The Apollo’ Documents the ‘Heartbeat of Black America’

Whittling 85 years of history into one 90-minute film is a difficult task — and in fact the production company behind HBO’s documentary “The Apollo,” about the famed Harlem theater, had worked on the film for nearly a decade before director Roger Ross Williams came on board. But as an NYU student who regularly attended Amateur Night during college — and more broadly, someone who appreciated the history and sense of community the theater provided — he couldn’t resist.

“When White Horse Pictures … came to me and said, ‘We want to make this film about The Apollo,’ they had been working on it for seven years,” he told the audience following a Los Angeles screening of the film as part of the International Documentary Association’s annual screening series. “Many different directors had tried to make this film. But when they came to me, I was like, ‘Of course I’m gonna.
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