Several films on the Tribeca slate speak to the transformative effects of music and its indelible role in shaping the lives of a rich and absorbing set of characters. In Nico, 1988 Italian screenwriter and director Susanna Nicchiarelli takes the viewer on a dark and starkly complex journey through the final years of musical icon and one-time member of the Velvet Underground Christa Paffgen (aka Nico), played out through the explosive and captivating lens of Danish actress and musician Trine Dyrholm. Faced with a wave of conflicting roles as performer, artist, and mother, Paffgen’s Nico paints a sharp and vibrant picture of a woman in transition, and her heroic efforts to find salvation through reinvention, even as the inescapable demons of depression and addiction casts a dark and looming shadow over the European tour that would become her last (“I’ve been to the very top, I’ve been at the bottom. Both places are empty”).
In Blue Night, actress and producer Sarah Jessica Parker plays fictional songstress Vivienne Carale, whose life unfolds over 24 hours after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Against the striking backdrop of a charismatic and painfully honest New York City, Carale bumps up against reminiscence and remorse as she staggers through a stream of poignant encounters with strangers and loved ones (including a memorable showing by actor Waleed Zuaiter), grappling with her impending mortality.
In the two documentaries Studio 54 (directed by Matt Tyrnauer) and United Skates (directed by Dyna Winkler and Tina Brown), music plays an affecting role in distilling the essence of a particular time and place, engaging the viewer in an auditory journey through the lives of everyday citizens.
Through a series of poignant recordings and personal interviews, brash and unapologetically ambitious college buddies Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager recount their meteoric rise (and equally dramatic demise) as co-owners of the infamous New York City night club Studio 54. With remarkable footage and a dance-inducing soundtrack, Studio 54 captures the historic and societal implications of the bygone era of disco, while still underscoring a cautionary tale of unchecked drive and ego.
In United Skates, the infectious beats of funk and soul take center stage as Winkler and Brown take the viewer on an endearing ride across the U.S. to document roller skating rinks’ role in the roots and dazzling artistry of roller skating among African-American communities. The intimate interviews capture the indisputable significance of a neighborhood roller rink, as well as the passion of the self-proclaimed and wholly dedicated “rink rats.”