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Tribeca Film Festival: Nas music documentary 'Time is Illmatic' premieres opening night

The 13th Tribeca Film Festival kicked off Wednesday with Nas documentary Time is Illmatic, directed by multimedia artist and first-time director One9.

The film — which premiered at New York’s Beacon Theater — chronicles the rapper’s journey from the Queens projects to the debut of his 1994 record Illmatic, widely considered one of the best rap albums of all time.

“The nature of the subject is about surviving and thriving,” said Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal. “That’s what New York did post-9/11,” when Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff held the first Tribeca fest. “And that’s what Nas has done in his career. It’s about bridging cultures and bridging communities — that’s what his work is about.”

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Tribeca: Between Nas and 'Begin Again,' what are the festival's must-see movies

The Tribeca Film Festival began as a way for New York to rebuild culturally after the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. For the first time since then, the area around Ground Zero is dominated by a sparkly, newly finished Freedom Tower, which represents so much more than the city’s resilience and recovery. The Tribeca festival played a small, but not insignificant, role in that recovery, inviting artists and film lovers to the city and reassuring New Yorkers that life can be beautiful even in the darkest of days.

After more than a decade of growth, Tribeca is also entering a new phase in its maturation. Last month, the Madison Square Garden Company purchased 50 percent of Tribeca Enterprises, the entity that runs the festival. MSG’s world-class venues, like the Beacon Theatre and Radio City Music Hall, give the festival a higher profile. The deal also represents some permanence: Tribeca isn’t going away anytime soon. READ FULL STORY

Nas documentary 'Time Is Illmatic' to open Tribeca Film Festival

Time Is Illmatic, a documentary about the making of Nas’ 1994 album Illmatic, will kick off the Tribeca Film Festival this year. A performance by Nas himself will follow the world premiere of the film.

Illmatic was Nas’ debut album that led to nine solo albums and a reputation as a hip hop star. The film shows us Nas’ life before his success, including his upbringing in Queens, New York, and the influences of his musically inclined family members. “Throughout the journey, we see the metamorphosis of Nas as a young street poet, full of a rich musical legacy, transforming the pain and isolation of growing up in Queensbridge Houses into raw, honest lyrics, illuminating a spirit that inspired generations from the past, present, and the future,” director and multimedia artist One9 said in a statement.

Nas will release a 20th anniversary edition of Illmatic titled Illmatic XX April 15. The premiere of Time is Illmatic at the Tribeca Film Festival is the next day, April 16.

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