The Toronto International Film Festival will be a mix of virtual screenings and live events this year

By Ale Russian
July 22, 2020 03:00 PM
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Credit: Jim Spellman/Getty; Taylor Hill/Getty

Spike Lee's latest film is kicking off Toronto International Film Festival.

The festival will open up with David Byrne's American Utopia, the filmed version of the Broadway show centered on celebrated musician David Byrne. The show features Byrne and 11 other musicians as they explore different social and political issues; it ran at Broadway's Hudson Theater from October 2019 to February 2020.

The former Talking Heads frontman plays some of his solo songs as well and favorites from the band and even Janelle Monáe's "Hell You Talmbout."

“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.”

The festival will take place mostly online this year with a limited lineup of movies onsite due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Jody Rogac

Lee's new movie comes as the Broadway League, the national trade association that represents the theater industry, announced last month that all Broadway performances will be suspended through the rest of the year as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues.

The league is offering refunds and exchanges for tickets purchased for all performances through Jan. 3, 2021, it said.

"Every single member of our community is eager to get back to work sharing stories that inspire our audience through the transformative power of a shared live experience. The safety of our cast, crew, orchestra and audience is our highest priority and we look forward to returning to our stages only when it’s safe to do so. One thing is for sure, when we return we will be stronger and more needed than ever," Thomas Schumacher, chair of the board of The Broadway League, said.

TIFF runs from Sept. 10 to 19.