Tribeca Film Festival has announced its documentary lineup, and it promises plenty of fun for every kind of pop culture maven, including world premiere docs about disco queen Gloria Gaynor and queer silver screen legend Rock Hudson.
Gloria Gaynor forever cemented her place in popular culture with the disco classic “I Will Survive”. In the four decades since, her career has been stalled by health issues, as well as abuse and mismanagement from her now ex-husband. Yet in keeping with the title of her most famous song, Gaynor struggles onward as she works to release a new gospel album in her seventies.
This documentary recounts Gloria Gaynor’s life while also chronicling her comeback journey. It is both a moving story of an artist’s resilience and a scintillating peak at the machinations of the music industry. The support Gaynor receives from her manager Stephanie Gold and other industry professionals paints a rarely seen picture of comradeship in a professional sphere normally defined by its cutthroat nature. Such kindness may bring a tear to many eyes, but Gaynor’s beautiful voice running through the film guarantees it.––Cara Cusumano
After the Premiere: A performance by the one and only Gloria Gaynor.
For those who like their pop scandalous…
Rob Pilatus and Fabrice Morvan became fast friends during their youth in Germany. With Rob coming from a broken home and Fabrice having left an abusive household, they shared a similar upbringing, as well as a future goal: to become famous superstars. In a few short years, their dreams came true. Their first album went platinum six times in 1989, and their hit “Girl You Know It’s True” sold over 30 million singles worldwide. Rob and Fab, better known as Milli Vanilli, became the most popular pop duo in the late 1980s. However, their ascension to success came with a devastating price that ultimately brought their undoing.
Luke Korem’s Milli Vanilli dissects the duo’s trajectory from their humble origins through their collaboration with legendary music producer Frank Farian — a toxic partnership that cemented the band’s fate and concealed a shocking secret about their music and craft. With access into the inner circle of those involved in the controversy, including Fabrice himself and Farian’s assistant Ingrid Segieth, Korem’s illuminating documentary pulls back the curtain on the story that we thought we knew, but didn’t, and delivers a compelling look at the price of fame and the opportunistic commodification of artists.
There are also docs on newscaster Dan Rather and boxer Oscar de la Hoya, who has not been afraid to express his feminine side. Rounding out the slate of extraordinarily talented people is a closeted gay Hollywood legend:
We all know Rock Hudson as one of the seminal actors of his generation. Starring in countless movies and television shows, he was often perceived as a charming good guy who knew just how to make women fall for him. However, his personal life couldn’t be farther from his typical roles. Due to Hollywood’s intense bigotry and homophobia, Hudson was unable to live as an out gay man — his sexuality was only revealed after his death from AIDS-related complications in 1985. We know of his Hollywood persona and his tragic death, but what about everything else in between?
Acclaimed documentarian Stephen Kijak helms this portrait of Hudson’s life both on and off the screen. Piecing together his story using archival footage and testimonies from some of his closest friends, Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed is a tribute to a trailblazer in LGBTQ+ media that was taken from us too soon. It also confronts the systems that kept him closeted for so many years, asking if progress in Hollywood for queer representation has truly been made.
The title is a play on the Douglas Sirk classic queer-coded melodrama All That Heaven Allows:
For tickets, including options for viewing online, visit: tribecafilm.com/festival
Image: Tribeca Film Festival