The film is the directing debut of Lisa D’Apolito, who got support from Radner’s estate. It emphasizes Radner’s words and voice by weaving together audiotapes, home movies and diary entries with interviews with friends and those she inspired, including many alums of Saturday Night Live.
Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989 at just 42. Although her career was cut short, her influential run in comedy made her into an icon for female comedians, a status that is still intact nearly 30 years later. As an original SNL cast member from 1975 to 1980. her performances of now-classic sketch characters Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella, and Lisa Loopner led to roles in TV and film, and on Broadway. Her battle with cancer and the creation of the Gilda’s Club support group network by, among others, her widower Gene Wilder, further burnished Radner’s legacy.
“As a festival that has always supported women’s voices and is largely run by women, we are incredibly proud to celebrate the inimitable voice of Gilda during the opening night of our festival,” said Jane Rosenthal, co-founder and CEO of the Tribeca fest. “Gilda Radner was a powerful comedic force of nature who opened doors and thrilled audiences while becoming one of the most prolific comedians of a generation. Her cutting-edge humor was second only to her dedicated leadership in cancer care with her eponymous Gilda’s Club.”
Tribeca’s opening night gala will return to the Beacon Theatre on New York’s Upper West Side. The festival, which will announce its feature film slate on March 7, runs April 18-29.
Given where it falls on the industry calendar, after SXSW and Sundance but before Cannes, Tribeca has gradually shifted its opening-night strategy from spotlighting studio releases like Baby Mama and United 93 to documentaries. Music-themed docs on artists including Elton John, Nas and the National have kicked off recent editions.
Love, Gilda is produced by D’Apolito, Bronwyn Berry, Meryl Goldsmith, and James Tumminia. Exec producing are Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn, Alan and Robin Zweibel. Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton.
Submarine is handling sales for the film.