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Tribeca Festival 2022 Returns Better Than Ever Highlighting Diverse Storytelling

Tribeca 2022
Tribeca Film Festival 2022 | Reported by: LaKisa Renee | Image Credit Erik Pendzich / Alamy

The Tribeca Festival 2022 was back and better than ever after a hybrid version last summer in NYC. Founded by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, the 12-day festival included films, talks, in-person events, master classes, storytelling, galas and a “Tribeca At Home’ platform for online attendees. Noticeably different this year was the name of the festival and its logo. Formerly called The Tribeca Film Festival, The Tribeca Festival changed its name to embrace and include other elements of entertainment such as gaming, virtual reality, podcasting, music and live performances. The festival spanned from lower Manhattan to Uptown near the Bronx and included the venues Spring Studios, The United Theater, The Beacon Theater, SVA Theatre, Pier 57, and Village East by Angelika, BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Chelsea, and Battery Park Cinepolis & Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place. With multiple events and red carpets going on at once, we had to strategically pick which ones attend.

This was my second time covering the Tribeca festival, my first experience was in 2019. I had the lowest level media pass and was just excited to be present at such an esteemed festival. After a few years of hard work and making my mark in the media industry, I returned to the festival and received the Franklin Industry Press Badge. It included access to the most elite events, screenings, talks and red carpets. My experience this year was so epic and legendary; it is something that I will truly never forget. With only a short amount of time to reset after arriving in NYC, I dove straight into the festivities.

The festival kicked off on June 8th with the red carpet premiere screening of Jennifer Lopez’s Netflix Documentary “Halftime,” which nearly paralleled an Oscar’s event in style and delivery. Many celebrities hit the red carpet including Tribeca Founders Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro. Jennifer Lopez arrived in a stunning black, sheer gown with cutouts created by Designer Tom Ford.

The following day I attended the SVA Theatre red carpets for the screenings of Butterfly in The Sky, The Integrity of Joseph Chambers and Blaze. Butterfly in The Sky is a documentary that details the creation of Reading Rainbow and its legacy. The red carpet featured Whoopi Goldberg and Levar Burton and the screening was followed by a Q&A with Reading Rainbow Host LeVar Burton and the creators of the show.

The Integrity of Joseph Chambers red carpet featured Producer/Lead Actor Clayne Crawford (Lethal Weapon) and Actor Michael Raymond-James (True Blood). I was able to interview Clayne Crawford who went into details on how the film and cast came together. The film also stars Jordana Brewster and Jeffrey Dean Morgan; it’s about a family man Joe (Clayne Crawford) who hopes to prove his survivalist capabilities and manliness to his family by irresponsibly heading off into the woods and deer hunting by himself.

The final red carpet featured Simon Baker (The Mentalist) who stars in the film “Blaze”. Simon Baker stars in this coming of age reimagined drama as the attentive single father of 12 year old Blaze (Julia Savage), who goes off the rails after experiencing trauma. I was also able to interview Mr. Baker mentioned that the Tribeca Festival marked the first time he’s been back in the USA from Australia since the pandemic started.

The next few days were a world-wind! I attended Storytellers - Pharrell Williams with Minya Oh red carpets and a talk which included a conversation with legendary Producer Pharrell that spans his entire career and legacy. Pharrell was so chill on the red carpet and made sure to speak with and take pics with the media.

Storytellers - Cynthia Erivo Goes Back to Broadway was one of the most moving, uplifting, empowering talks I attended. Cynthia Ervio and Andre De Shields talked about issues people of color continue to face on Broadway and the need for more diversity and representation on stage. They spoke so much life into the audience, we left feeling so fulfilled.

I also attended the Director’s Series conversation and red carpet featuring Tyler Perry with Gayle King. I was in awe as I got to meet and take pictures with one of my media idols Gayle King of CBS. I always refer to myself as the Young Gayle King and Tammy Reese as the Young Oprah Winfrey. We idolize Gayle and Oprah’s sisterhood and it made our day to capture our conversation with her on video. Tribeca has expanded from just a film festival and added music as a component.

One of my favorite carpets and screenings that I covered was the legendary, historic music documentary “The DOC” that chronicled the life and career of West Coast Hip-Hop Legend, Rapper, Writer & Producer The DOC. It featured his journey from rising rap star to his accident, losing his voice and trying to regain his identity. The special performance after the screening included DJ Quik, Daz, Kurupt, Xzibit, Slick Rick and Keith Murray. Blue carpet guests included his daughter Puma (with Erykah Badu) Sabti Curry, his parents, Hip-Hop Legends DJ Red Alert and DJ Clue. I got to capture a legendary rap cypher on the blue carpet featuring all of the rappers. It was also The DOC’s Birthday, the premiere and concert also was a birthday celebration for him followed by an official after party by DJ Quik. The after party featured music by DJ Quik, complimentary food and drinks for guests as well as a surprise performance from Ghostface Killah of the legendary Hip-Hop Group Wu-Tang Clan.

Another premiere that I attended was “Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby” at The Beacon Theater. The documentary takes a rare look into the world of Hip-Hop Artist Lil Baby’s personal life and music career. It shows behind the scenes footage of his journey from hustling in the Trap in Atlanta to becoming one of the top hip-hop’s artists in the game today. It also shows how much he loves and values his children, family and privacy. Following the screening was a Q&A with Lil Baby, the founders of Quality Control Music Kevin ‘Coach K’ Lee (COO) and Pierre “P” Thomas (CEO). The audience was then treated to a mini concert by Lil Baby, who performed some of his biggest hits.

The epicness continued with the 25th-anniversary celebration for Eve’s Bayou featuring the cast and crew. Director Kasi Lemmons, Producer Caldecot “Cotty” Chubb, Actress Lynn Whitfield, Jurnee Smollett and Moderator Torell Shavone Taylor all walked the red carpet. I was able to interview Kasi Lemmons and speak with her about the film’s legacy, it being inducted into the National Film Registry for preservation and our Harriet Tubman connections. I also interviewed Cotty Chubbs who nearly came to tears speaking about the filming memories with the cast and crew. Torell Shavone Taylor shared how the film influenced her life and its impact over the years. I took pictures with Lynn and Jurnee and got some amazing video footage of them. Lynn Whitfield is one of my favorite actresses, I was honored to meet and speak with her. After the screening an amazing Q&A with Lynn Whitefield, Jurnee Smollett, Meagan Good and Kasi Lemmons was held.

[Left to Right: Journalists LaKisa Renee and Tammy Reese Meet with TV Veteran Gayle King, Lakisa Renee with Emmy Award winning actor Laurence Fishburne, Attorny Ben Crump, Director Kasi Lemmons, Tyler Perry, and music legend Xzibit]

Another amazing film premiere was “88” the political conspiracy thriller by Executive Producer Charlamagne Tha God of the Breakfast Club. The film stars Brandon Victor Dixon, Orlando Jones & Naturi Naughton in this story of suspense and intrigue, capturing the cultural zeitgeist of government mistrust and institutional racism. After the premiere Tammy Reese, Clyde Anderson and I were invited by Naturi Naughton and her Husband Two Lewis to an intimate, a private after party that celebrated the premiere of the film. We were very grateful for the invite, the blooming friendship and support from the inspirational couple.

One of my favorite moments of the festival was the opportunity to cover the red carpet at the VEC Theater for The Cave of Adullam premiere. I was able to interview the Executive Producer of the film Laurence Fishburne about his role in the film and what he hopes the audience takes away from the documentary after watching it. It was an honor to interview him; he is one of my favorite actors of all time. The film won the Tribeca Festival Awards for Audience Choice, Best Editing, and Best Documentary Feature.

CIVIL, a documentary about Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump who has represented the families of George Floyd, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor also premiered at The Tribeca Festival. It documents his mission to root out anti-Black racism and violence by hitting perpetrators where they’re hurt most: their wallets. Ben Crump spoke about the film and gave a shout out to Cultured Focus Magazine. I also go to speak to and take pictures with the legend. He mentioned that I reminded him of his daughters Beyonce and Solange, which was a huge compliment. I was so surprised to see George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic on the red carpet without is iconic, signature look. He was so down to earth and wished Tammy Reese's father a Happy Birthday on camera for us.

One of the most anticipated screenings and red carpets for me was The 50th Anniversary of The Godfather at the United Palace. Prior to the screening Robert De Niro and Al Pacino walked the red carpet. The film and panel discussion with Al Pacino was introduced by Robert De Niro before the screening. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino also appeared at the red carpet and retrospective screening for “Heat” followed by a panel discussion with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Director/Writer Michael Mann.

One of the most exciting but chaotic red carpets was the screening of “Official Competition” featuring the stars of the film Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz. The packed media area went insane when they hit the carpet, there were people from all over the world vying for the perfect photos and videos of the two. Official Competition is about a billionaire entrepreneur who decides to get into the movie business and commissions international auteur director Lola Cuevas (Penélope Cruz), Hollywood heartthrob Felix Rivero (Antonio Banderas), and titan of the stage Ivan Torres (Oscar Martínez) to collaborate on a cinematic masterpiece.

One of the most memorable, historical, powerful red carpets of the Tribeca Festival was the premiere of “Loudmouth” at the BMCC documenting Al Sharpton’s life story as an iconic activist and spiritual leader. To cover this carpet showcasing phenomenal black excellence during Juneteenth was mind-blowing. The carpet featured the man of the hour Rev. Al Sharpton, Executive Producer/EGOT John Legend, Legendary Director Spike Lee, Actor Jesse Williams, Singer Al B. Sure, Actress Cassandra Freeman, MSNBC President Rashida Jones and Icon, Queen of Blaxploitation, the 1st Female Action Star Actress Pam Grier. Pam Grier was an unexpected guest. I’d been waiting my whole life to meet her because she is my biggest action film influence. She left me completely speechless, all I could do was scream and say “I love you, you’re so beautiful.” Tribeca Festival Co-Founders Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro also made an appearance on the carpet.

Closing out the festival and Juneteenth weekend was the red carpet and screening of the “Supreme Team” documentary Directed by Hip-Hop Legend Nasir “Nas” Jones and Peter J Scalettar. Supreme Team is a three-part limited docuseries that takes an in-depth look at the notorious Queens, NY Gang and tells the real story from the mouths of its two leaders and family members Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff and Gerald “Prince” Miller. The premiere was followed by a conversation with Co-Directors Nas and Peter J. Scalettar.

There were so many other phenomenal screenings and events such as the Tribeca Chanel Women’s Filmmaker Program luncheon, premieres Somewhere In Queens with Ray Romano, Aisha with Letitia Wright, American Dreamer with Matt Dillion and Shirley MacLaine, Velvet Goldmine with Ewan McGregor and The Good House with Sigourney Weaver. Celebrities Rock & Roll Hall of Famer LL Cool J, Derek Jeter, Kevin Bacon, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift, Machine Gun Kelly, Megan Fox were also featured in premieres and talks. Tribeca 2022 was packed with star power and was definitely one for the record books! It was truly an honor to cover this prestigious festival for Cultured Focus Magazine alongside my media tribe Tammy Reese of New York Women in Film and Television, Clyde Anderson of CA Media and Judith Davis of Medium.

Thank you to the wonderful team at the Tribeca Festival 2022 and Cultured Focus Magazine for this unforgettable opportunity. Thank you to all of the publicists, celebrities, directors, producers and writers for the amazing interviews and shout outs to Cultured Focus Magazine. We appreciate you dearly! Until next time Tribeca!

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