David Byrne’s American Utopia (2020)

  • Spotlight
  • 1h 45m
  • USA

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In late 2019, legendary musician and artist David Byrne contacted director Spike Lee to see if he would be interested in making a film of his acclaimed Broadway show, American Utopia. Lee came on board, and the result is an exhilarating record of a seismic theater event as well as a momentous work of cinema in its own right. Featuring thrilling performances of Talking Heads hits and Byrne numbers (“Once in a Lifetime,” “Burning Down the House,” “Glass, Concrete & Stone”) by a dazzling 11-person ensemble, American Utopia is both joyous and politically engaged, a reckoning of these dark times through music and togetherness, with a galvanizing rendition of Janelle Monáe’s “Hell You Talmbout” that’s destined to be one of the year’s most talked-about screen moments. With 11 camera operators, Lee and cinematographer Ellen Kuras (who shot Lee’s Bamboozled) capture the thrill of live performance with a concert film that functions as a poignant tribute to two essential New York artists who remain in the primes of their careers. An HBO release.

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Spike Lee

Bonus Content

58th New York Film Festival Trailer

Preview 25 days of the best in world cinema.

David Byrne's American Utopia Intro

An introduction by Wendy Keys, Eugene Hernandez, Dennis Lim and director Spike Lee.

David Byrne's American Utopia Q&A

A conversation between Dennis Lim, director Spike Lee and subject David Byrne.

A message from Spike Lee & David Byrne

Utopia starts with (YO)U. Listen to an important message on voting from the Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and Oscar and Emmy-winner Spike Lee.

HBO Documentary Films

Special thanks to HBO, the presenting partner of NYFF58 documentaries.

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