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Lee Daniels to direct Apollo Theatre Film Project

Lee Daniels

Story by Jack Foley

OSCAR-nominated director Lee Daniels will direct the documentary feature film The Apollo Theatre Film Project, the authorized history of New York’s famed Apollo Theater, it was announced today by White Horse Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair and Jeanne Elfant Festa.

In the spirit of the Apollo Theater’s tradition of active audience participation and in support of this documentary, Lee Daniels and Jonelle Procope, President and CEO the Apollo Theater, are jointly making an appeal to members of the public, audience-goers, and fans for film footage, home movies, photographs or other memorabilia that may have been accumulated by members of the community in the course of its more than 80 years of live performances.

Said Daniels and Procope: “We are asking members of the community who have been to the Apollo, who may have parents or grandparents or other family members or friends who have done so, to help us find any material – audience footage, photographs, or other memories that we can use in our documentary film.

“We have established a website ( for anyone who wants to submit. We will, of course, respect everybody’s ownership of their property.”

Daniels continued: “I am honoured to be entrusted with the story of this incredible American iconic institution and work with this team. I used to go to The Apollo Theater as a kid and never in a million years would I have imagined I would be back to be doing this – it is very special for me.”

The film will tell the story of the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. One of the most famous theaters in the world and a driving force in shaping America’s music and cultural landscape, the Apollo’s impact on the local Harlem community and the legendary musicians who performed at the historic venue is immeasurable.

Its significance as a symbol of all that is great in Harlem, New York, and American culture has transcended its origin as a place of culture and entertainment. The Apollo today is recognized as an influential centre for culture and performing arts with programming across music, comedy, dance, theatre and opera.

The Apollo continues to build on its legacy by nurturing emerging voices and presenting ground-breaking artists across genres, both nationally and internationally.

Born out of the Harlem Renaissance, the theatre became the most prized venue on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” during the time of racial segregation in the United States.

On the entertainment circuit, becoming the Harlem community’s answer to Carnegie Hall, it showcased a stunning list of renowned artists, including Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, Gladys Knight, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Billie Holiday.

It was a launch pad for many musical greats, including Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, and the Jackson Five. Today, the Apollo hosts more than 100 performances on its stages annually, including artistic offerings from around the globe, robust education and community programs, and shows by some of the most celebrated contemporary artists in the world, such as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Smokey Robinson, Metallica and Sam Smith.

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