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Yellow Springs Takes Center Stage In Chappelle's Tribeca Film Premiere

Dave Chappelle, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar in Yellow Springs.
Mathieu Bitton
Pilot Boy Productions
Dave Chappelle, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar in Yellow Springs.

It's Yellow Springs night when the Tribeca Film Festival wraps up Saturday at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

The 12-day festival closes with the world premiere of comedian Dave Chappelle's film about performing outdoor comedy concerts near his Yellow Springs home during the pandemic last summer.

Yellow Springs' Oscar- and Emmy-winning filmmakers, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, directed and produced the film which still does not have a name. Tribeca and the Internet Movie Datebase list it as the Untitled Dave Chappelle Documentary.

It's their second collaboration with Chappelle in the past year. They also produced Chappelle's 8:46 YouTube stand-up special about the killing of George Floyd.

Deadline reports the documentary "portrays the challenges facing arural village in Ohio during the early days of the pandemic. It captures the emotional period of the Black Lives Matter movement and the remarkable leadership of the town's youth who started weekly marches and rallies."

The IMDB description says that "Dave Chappelle launches his outdoor and social-distanced live comedy shows in rural [sic] to provide a small Ohio community he calls home with an economic and comic relief to encourage them during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Chappelle called the closing spot at Tribeca "a big honor" in a statement released by his Pilot Boy Productions. "Our film is about courage and resilience, something New Yorkers can relate to," he said in the statement.

Chappelle, 47, split his childhood between Silver Spring, Maryland, and Yellow Springs, where his father, William David Chapelle III, taught music and voice at Antioch College. The comedian has lived for many years with his wife and children in the Greene County community 20 miles east of Dayton.

"Dave is our neighbor. We see him in the grocery store and on the street," said Reichert in the Pilot Boy Productions statement.

"When Dave came to us with the idea, we were immediately struck by the challenge to tell the story of our part of the world during the pandemic and the national reckoning on racial injustice. This was a historic moment and we really wanted to chronicle this place and this time, it just felt right," Reichert said.

Bognar in the statement thanked "Chappelle and his friends (who) entrusted our team of amazing young filmmakers from Ohio with intimate moments which enabled us to create a moving portrait of artists as they navigated a time of fear and isolation."

Chappelle was awarded the 22nd annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2019. He has won four primetime Emmy Awards: Two for outstanding variety special (Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones; Dave Chappelle: Equanimity); outstanding variety special writing (Stick & Stones) and best guest comedy series actor (Saturday Night Live). He also has three Grammy Awards – but no Emmy Awards for his hilarious Comedy Central Chappelle's Show (2003-06).

Reichert and Bognar won an Emmy, Academy Award and a Sundance Film Festival award for American Factory,a Neflix film about a Dayton area former GM plant. Their first Emmy came in 2007 for their A Lion In The House documentary about young cancer patients at Cincinnati's Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The filmmakers also produced and directed9to5: The Story Of A Movement,a 90-minute documentary broadcast in February on PBS' Independent Lens series.

It is not known how or where Chappelle's new untitled documentary will be available for viewing after the Tribeca premiere.
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John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.