Music films hit distinct note at annual Tribeca Film Festival

Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:15am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Music and movies played together even before sound revolutionized film during its infancy, and so it is at the Tribeca Film Festival where the documentary lineup is heavy on musical subjects, from hip hop star Nas to shock rocker Alice Cooper.

From the days of silent films, often accompanied by live keyboards, to lavish mid-century MGM musicals, music has held a spotlight throughout cinema history.

And while documentaries have traditionally comprised as much as half of Tribeca's scores of offerings, films about musicians Bjork, Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir, James Brown and others have lent this year's festival a decidedly tuneful air.

"We never program to an agenda," said Tribeca's director of programming, Genna Terranova. "These trends sort of reveal themselves, and this year that trend definitely seems to be music."

Several of the music documentaries will be augmented by live performances from the artists profiled in the films.

"It brings a great energy to the festival," Terranova said, adding it offers something new and different for the audience.

Highlighting music's starring role this year is "Time Is Illmatic," a look at the early life and music career of American hip-hop artist Nas and the making of the groundbreaking album "Illmatic" in 1994.

The rapper proclaimed "Thank you, Tribeca" as he took to the Beacon Theater stage on Wednesday for a post-screening concert, joined by Alicia Keys and kicking off with "N.Y. State of Mind" before performing the rest of "Illmatic."   Continued...

Robert De Niro waves upon arriving for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival opening night screening of 'Time Is Illmatic' in New York April 16, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton