David Byrne's Broadway production will screen digitally at the start of the festival's 2020 edition.

By Joey Nolfi
July 21, 2020 at 11:05 AM EDT
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David Byrne's American Utopia is heading to Canada.

The Spike Lee-directed movie documenting the Broadway production will premiere as the opening selection of the Toronto International Film Festival's digital edition, TIFF announced Tuesday.

Lee's filmed version of the stage show chronicles the former Talking Heads frontman's central performance alongside 11 musicians from around the world as they cover social and political issues while encouraging audience togetherness during dark times.

The show — which features Byrne's solo songs, Talking Heads favorites, and a rendition of Janelle Monáe's "Hell You Talmbout" — played at Broadway's Hudson Theatre from October 2019 through February 2020, with an HBO premiere for Lee's film set to premiere this fall.

“Spike Lee has somehow always been exactly of his moment and ahead of his time,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF's artistic director, in a press statement. “With David Byrne’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.”

One of the most important film festivals on the global scene and the American awards circuit, TIFF previously announced it would continue with its 2020 edition in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with socially distant screenings and other live events still planned for public attendees, though it has since amended its vision to include a smaller lineup of titles and entirely online press access to virtual conferences and premieres as a recent festival announcement cautioned that media "should not plan to travel to Toronto" for TIFF 2020.

The 45th Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 10-19.

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