Toronto Film Festival To Open With Spike Lee’s Filmed Version Of David Byrne Show ‘American Utopia’

American Utopia
David Byrne's 'American Utopia' Matthew Murphy

The Toronto Film Festival is to open with Spike Lee’s filmed version of David Byrne’s hit Broadway show, American Utopia.

TIFF will this year be a mix of physical and online screenings with a much-reduced industry presence due to coronavirus.

American Utopia launched on Broadway in the fall of 2019 and was a hot-ticket through February of 2020. Lee shot the production during its Hudson Theatre run and the concert film will debut on HBO this fall. It will screen in Toronto on September 10, the same day it premieres on the cable channel.

The concert comprises performances of songs from Byrne’s 2018 solo album of the same name as well as works from his Talking Heads years such as Once in a Lifetime and Burning Down the House. Byrne also covered Janelle Monáe’s Hell You Talmbout, a protest song about police brutality. Byrne sings, plays instruments, and dances along with an 11-person troupe.

“This joyful film takes audiences on a musical journey about openness, optimism, and faith in humanity,” said Joana Vicente, executive director and co-head of TIFF, in a statement. “This is especially poignant at a time of great uncertainty around the world. We’re eager to share the excitement of Opening Night with audiences.”

“Spike Lee has somehow always been exactly of his moment and ahead of his time,” said Cameron Bailey, artistic director and co-head of TIFF, in a statement. “With David Bryne’s ‘American Utopia,’ he brings Byrne’s classic songs and joyous stagecraft to the screen just when we need it. Spike’s latest joint is a call to connect with one another, to protest injustice, and, above all, to celebrate life.”

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