The Tribeca Film Festival knows how to nail a kickoff. By the time the crowd was exiting Radio City Music Hall after the world premiere of the documentary “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives” on Wednesday night, Jennifer Hudson had paid tribute to Leonard Cohen and Whitney Houston, Carly Simon had sung “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and Aretha Franklin had one-upped everyone in an enveloping white gown that sparkled all the way to the rafters.
Tribeca often opens its annual festival with a glittery entertainment-industry showcase. In 2014, the Nas doc “Time Is Illmatic” led into a full performance of “Illmatic” from Nas himself. In 2015, Ludacris took the stage after the “Saturday Night Live” documentary, because why not? Last year’s premiere of the Met Gala doc “The Last Monday in May” skipped the musical finale, but Tribeca more than made up for it this year, parading out Barry Manilow, Dionne Warwick and Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as the aforementioned acts, for an hourlong concert. It was all in the name of Davis, the 85-year-old record impresario who bolstered their careers.
Davis’ pride and joy was always Whitney Houston, who has her own documentary premiering at Tribeca next week. “The Soundtrack of Our Lives,” directed by Chris Perkel, is strongest during sections devoted to Davis and Houston’s devoted professional partnership. Houston, whom Davis signed to Arista Records at age 19, died on the night of Davis’ famous Grammy party in 2012. He had long pleaded that she get help for her drug problems. “I know that Whitney never intended to leave so early,” a mournful Davis said toward the film’s end. “We all thought that she had beat it.” It’s only fitting that Hudson used part of her Radio City set as an ode to Houston. The audience cheered at the documentary’s footage of Houston’s performances, particularly her famous “Star-Spangled Banner.”
And then! Then the screen rose and out came Barry Manilow, ripping through a medley that included “Looks Like We Made It,” “Mandy,” “Lola” and “Copacabana.”
“What a movie! What a life! And I was there!” Manilow said as the concert began, referring to Davis.
Story by Matthew Jacobs – Huffington Post