David Byrne’s ‘American Utopia’ Filmed Musical Directed by Spike Lee to Open Toronto Film Festival

Festival runs September 10-19

Last Updated: July 21, 2020 @ 7:34 AM

The Toronto International Film Festival announced Tuesday that “American Utopia” — the filmed version of David Byrne’s 2019 Broadway show directed by Spike Lee — will be its opening night film. “American Utopia” will debut on HBO Max later this year.

TIFF 2020 will kick off as a hybrid virtual and in-person event beginning on September 10 through the 19th.

“American Utopia” features new takes and choreography to some of Byrne’s classic songs with Talking Heads and his solo career and had a sold-out run from October 2019 to February 2020 at Broadway’s Hudson Theater.

“With ‘David Byrne’s American Utopia,’ he brings Byrne’s classic songs and joyous stagecraft to the screen,” TIFF artistic director and co-head Cameron Bailey said in a statement. “Spike’s latest joint is a call to connect with one another, to protest injustice, and, above all, to celebrate life.”

TIFF this year has already unveiled a “tighter” selection of films, 50 movies that will be screened across physical, drive-in and virtual settings. Among them announced back in June chosen for the first wave of films are Francis Lee’s “Ammonite” starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round,” Halle Berry’s “Bruised” and Ricky Staub’s “Concrete Cowboy.”

The fall film festivals likewise earlier this month agreed to band together on a “united platform,” moving away from a competitive model of fighting for the best premieres and making sure that the best in film is well represented across Venice, TIFF, New York and Telluride. However, Telluride has already announced it has canceled its 2020 edition.

The Broadway production of “American Utopia” featured the work of American choreographer Annie-B Parson and Tony-nominated Alex Timbers serving as production consultant, both of whom previously collaborated with Byrne on the acclaimed Imelda Marcos musical Here Lies Love; lighting design by Rob Sinclair and sound design by Pete Keppler; Karl Mansfield and Mauro Refosco are musical directors.