Tribeca Film Festival: Music-Themed Docs Spotlight Studio 54, Ed Sheeran, Blue Note Records

Studio 54
Allan Tannenbaum

Studio 54 founders Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager.

Several of the 96 movies taking part in this year's Tribeca Film Festival have music themes, from a road movie about Nico's final months to a documentary about legendary jazz imprint Blue Note Records. The final lineup for the Robert DeNiro co-founded festival, now in its 17th year, was announced on Wednesday ahead of the event.

Fifty-one narratives and 45 documentaries will debut over the course of the 12-day festival, running April 18-29. Of the 96 films, 46 percent are directed by women and 46 are from first-time filmmakers. "We are proud to present a lineup that celebrates American diversity and welcomes new international voices in a time of cultural and social activism,” said Paula Weinstein, executive vp of Tribeca Enterprises. "Our films succeed in being both entertaining and illuminating which is what you desire from great storytellers."

Music-themed documentaries Studio 54, about the disco club's meteoric rise and catastrophic fall, Songwriter, which goes inside the writing process of Ed Sheeran's ÷ (Divide) album, and Howard, a tribute to Disney lyricist Howard Ashman. See below for a breakdown of all the music films at this year's festival:

Bathtubs Over Broadway, directed by Dava Whisenant. Comedy writer Steve Young’s assignment to scour bargain-bin vinyl for a Late Night segment becomes an unexpected, decades-spanning obsession when he stumbles upon the strange and hilarious world of industrial musicals in this musical-comedy-documentary. With David Letterman, Chita Rivera, Martin Short, Susan Stroman, Sheldon Harnick, Jello Biafra. After the movie: A conversation with members of the cast and a special performance inspired by the film with surprise guests.

Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes, directed and written by Sophie Huber. This is the history of Blue Note Records, the label that, since 1939, has recorded jazz giants ranging from Miles Davis to Robert Glasper—revolutionizing not only music, but also the world. With Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Robert Glasper, Don Was, Norah Jones. After the movie:  A special guest performance by Blue Note artists Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, and Kendrick Scott.

Howard, directed and written by Don Hahn. Howard Ashman, the once-in-a-generation songwriting talent, penned the lyrics for Little Shop of Horrors and revitalized Disney with his work on The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Howard is a tribute to the lyricist and to the power of musical storytelling. With Howard Ashman, Alan Menken, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Bill Lauch, Sarah Gillespie, Peter Schneider.

Nico, 1988, directed and written by Susanna Nicchiarelli. This whirlwind road movie follows the final months on tour of the singer-songwriter Nico, one-time Warhol superstar and Velvet Underground vocalist. With Trine Dyrholm, John Gordon Sinclair, Anamaria Marinca, Sandor Funtek, Thomas Trabacchi, Karina Fernandez, Calvin Demba. A Magnolia release.

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, directed and written by Stephen Nomura Schible. Ryuichi Sakamoto has had a prolific career spanning over four decades, from techno-pop stardom to Oscar-winning film composer. Coda offers an intimate portrait of a legendary artist and a passionate activist.

Satan & Adam, directed by V. Scott Balcerek. One was a demon on guitar; the other was fresh out of school and no slouch on harmonica. Satan & Adam is a rousing celebration of the blues that comprises documentary footage shot over the course of two decades. With Sterling Magee, Adam Gussow, The Edge, Rev. Al Sharpton, Harry Shearer, Quint Davis.

Song of Back and Neck, directed and written by Paul Lieberstein. A hapless man seeking treatment for his crippling back pain discovers a very unusual talent and unexpected love in this inventive romantic comedy from writer-director-star Paul Lieberstein (The Office). With Paul Lieberstein, Rosemarie DeWitt, Clark Duke, Brian d'Arcy James, Robert Pine, Paul Feig.

Songwriter, directed and written by Murray Cummings. Songwriter is an intimate immersion into the intense and collaborative process that created Ed Sheeran’s chart-topping album, ÷.

Studio 54, directed by Matt Tyrnauer. In 1977, Studio 54 and its founders, Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, epitomized New York hedonism. But by, 1979 the fantasy was over—and Studio 54 goes inside that meteoric rise and catastrophic fall. With Steve Rubell, Ian Schrager, Nile Rodgers, Norma Kamali, Karin Bacon, Myra Scheer.


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