Tribeca 2019: Hip-Hop, Sports Narratives Take Center Stage

The must-see documentaries that you should check out this year for the culture.

The 2019 Tribeca Film Festival kicked off this week and if you’ve ever been to a film festival before then you know how important it is to have a game plan to view as many movies as possible. Otherwise, you will end up suffering from exhaustion in the process.

Part of the reason many people need days of recovery after attending a film festival that is spread out over several locations is the lack of a plan.  Here are The Shadow League’s choices of documentaries that you should check out this year for the culture.


“What’s My Name|Muhammad Ali” by Antoine Fuqua

What’s My Name | Muhammad Ali (2019) | Official Trailer | HBO

Chronicling the extraordinary life of one of the 20th century’s most iconic figures, this two-part documentary explores Ali’s challenges and triumphs through recordings of his own voice. Directed by Antoine Fuqua and executive produced by LeBron James and Maverick, What’s My Name | Muhammad Ali premieres May 14 at 8PM on HBO.

Directed by Academy Award-winning director Antoine Fuqua, What’s My Name? uses archival footage to craft a documentary to tell a new generation the story of how Muhammad Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay and the backlash that he faced for it. What’s My Name is co-produced by LeBron James and Maverick Carter and will be released via HBO Sports. It premieres at Tribeca on April 28.


“Ashe 68” by Rex Miller

Ashe ’68 | Sports Illustrated

In this 360 VR feature, revisit the state of tennis — and America — that led to Arthur Ashe making history as the first black man to compete in the U.S. Open finals, as well as the path Ashe took as a trailblazer.

Beautiful documentaries are a staple of the Tribeca Film Festival, and Ashe 68 fits right in with that tradition. Though the world knew tennis legend Arthur Ashe as a civil rights activist who later died from AIDS contracted via a blood transfusion, but in 1968 he was still trying to become the first African-American man to win the US Open. When that occurred, a shift in socio-political sensibilities began taking place around the world. Ashe 68 is directed by Rex Miller.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of his win in 1968.


“A Kid From Coney Island” by Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah

Coney Island, Brooklyn’s native son Stephon Marbury will be getting the documentary treatment yet again with A Kid From Coney Island, directed by Coodie Simmons and Chike Ozah, and featuring appearances by God Shammgod, Ray Allen, Fat Joe, and others. A Kid From Coney Island tells the story of a young boy who had been foreseen as an NBA star when he was 5-years-old. This pressure is further exasperated by the fact that his three older brothers were elite ballplayers in their own right, but never made it to the NBA.


“Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men” by Sacha Jenkins

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men (2019) Official Trailer | Premieres 5/10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Showtime Documentary Films dives deeper into the music documentary space with Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, a four-part limited docuseries from filmmaker and Director Sacha Jenkins (BURN MOTHERF*CKER, BURN!) and produced by Mass Appeal, that transcends the music documentary genre by creating a new lane that merges music, socio-cultural commentary and intimate family portrait.

Directed by Sacha Jenkins, Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men is a four-hour documentary to be released on Showtime to coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the release of Up From the 36 Chambers, the ground-breaking debut album of the original 9-man crew. It’ll be at Tribeca but you won’t get a chance to see it again until May when it premieres on Showtime.


“At the Heart of Gold” by Erin Lee Carr

At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal (2019) | Official Trailer | HBO

Featuring exclusive interviews with survivors of the 2017 sexual abuse scandal, the documentary looks at the shocking stories of the gymnasts who made courageous efforts to reveal a dangerous system that prioritized winning over everything. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal premieres May 3, 2019 at 8pm ET.

At the Heart of Gold, directed by Erin Lee Carr, is a sobering look at the modern USA Gymnastics team and the virtual industrial complex and how, while rearing champion gymnasts, their myopia and negligence made it possible for many of our nation’s best athletes to be sexually abused in the hundreds. The doc uses first-person interviews and archival footage to paint a picture of corruption, exploitation, and corruption the likes of which have been unheard of to date.

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