“In the Heights,” a movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical, has been tapped to open the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
The festival’s opening night screening will be held on June 9 at the United Palace theater in Washington Heights. For the first time ever, Tribeca’s inaugural film will be screened simultaneously across all five boroughs in multiple open-air venues.
“It is such an honor to open the 20th anniversary Tribeca Film Festival with ‘In the Heights,’” Miranda said. “We’re so excited to welcome them uptown. This will be an unforgettable night at the United Palace. We can’t wait to share this musical love letter to our community, with our community, in our community.”
Directed by Jon M. Chu, “In the Heights” centers on a bodega owner named Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who dreams of saving enough money to return home to the Dominican Republic. The cast also includes Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins and Leslie Grace.
“New York, and specifically Washington Heights, is the lead character in our film — its vibrancy and energy are unmatched,” Chu said in a statement. “How incredible that after a year of isolation, New Yorkers from across all boroughs will have an opportunity to see it first, together, and join us in the celebration of life coming back.”
Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal calls “In the Heights” the “quintessential New York story.”
“We are proud to feature this film as Opening Night where it can debut in its hometown in celebration of its New York roots and the Latinx community,” she said.
Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the stage production’s Tony-nominated book of the musical, also penned the movie’s screenplay. “It was important to capture the heart and spirit of the piece — that celebration of Latino joy,” she told Variety of adapting the script. “Not only did it connect with Latino communities, but with international communities of all stripes and all walks of life.”
Following the opening night of Tribeca, “In the Heights” will debut in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service on June 11. It was originally scheduled to be released last year, but Warner Bros. postponed its release due to the pandemic.
“This is a vaccine for your soul,” Chu told Variety of the film.
This year’s Tribeca Film Festival will run from June 9-20 and plans to return with in-person screenings and panels, most of which will occur outdoors and at drive-in venues. In compliance with COVID-19 safety measures, Tribeca Film Festival is taking place not just in lower Manhattan, but across New York City’s five boroughs, at Brookfield Place New York, the Pier 57 Rooftop, The Battery, Hudson Yards, Empire Outlets in Staten Island and The MetroTech Commons in Brooklyn.