Love, Gilda includes commentary from Chevy Chase, Lorne Michaels, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Bill Hader and more
For at least the sixth year in a row the Tribeca Film Festival will open with a documentary.
The honor this year goes to Love, Gilda, a documentary about the late comedienne and Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner, directed by Lisa D'Apolito. The film covers Radner's brief but exceptional career, which brought beloved characters to the screen including obtuse elder Emily Litella, outspoken commentator Roseanne Roseannadanna, nerd Lisa Loobner and Baba Wawa, Radner's parody of journalist Barbara Walters.
"Weaving together recently discovered audiotapes, interviews with her friends, rare home movies and diaries read by modern day comediennes inspired by Gilda (Melissa McCarthy, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader and Cecily Strong)," the film's website reveals, "LOVE Gilda offers a unique window into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her story."
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.
Along with commentary from more recent SNL cast members, Love, Gilda features interviews with SNL creator Lorne Michaels and original cast member Chevy Chase, show writer Alan Zweibel and Radner's friend Martin Short.
Radner died in 1989 at age 42, her life cut short by ovarian cancer, a condition that doctors initially misdiagnosed for 10 months.
"Gilda’s legacy lives on in the world of comedy but also in a deeper way. When Gilda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she went public about her illness," the film's website notes. "Many followed her painful journey and when she died in 1989, felt like they'd lost a close friend."
Two of Gilda Radner's beloved SNL characters: (left) the earnest but uninformed Emily Litella and (right) the blunt but endearing commentator Roseanne Roseannadanna. Images from NBC
"Love Gilda takes you [on] a journey through Gilda’s heart and soul," the film's website continues. "We hear of her lonely childhood as chubby outsider and how she learns to make friends by telling jokes. She loses her father to illness at a young age and spends her life looking for love. When cast in Saturday Night Live she becomes a star and is on the cover on [sic] magazines. But goes home alone with the guilt of her eating disorder. She finds that fame is not happiness producing."
The film also documents her relationship with her husband, actor Gene Wilder, and their unsuccessful attempts to have children.
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This is the second time in recent years Tribeca has opened with a documentary related to Saturday Night Live. The 2015 edition of the festival kicked off with Live From New York!, a documentary by Bao Nguyen that chronicled the show's origins and long history of success.
Love, Gilda will premiere April 18 at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. Tribeca 2018 runs from April 18-29. Ticket information can be accessed here.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.