The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

David Byrne’s American Utopia

Deprived of a theatrical release last year due to the COVID pandemic, Spike Lee’s euphoric and Emmy-nominated joint with David Byrne, American Utopia, finally makes its debut on the big screen for a special two-night event! 

Filmed at the Hudson Theater on Broadway, American Utopia is a sublime document of original music by David Byrne and Talking Heads, rendered with a communal cast of mobile musicians that move about a minimally designed set. Byrne leads the company on a journey through an impressive tracklist of deep cuts, and one electrifying Janelle Monae cover, that are reformatted for this baroque, marching-band style presentation. Spike Lee and cinematographer Ellen Kuras effortlessly capture the vivacious energy of the concert with disciplined focus towards the performers onstage, but also with a mind towards the future of this country.

In vitality and spirit, American Utopia is as much a successor to Jonathan Demme’s massively influential Stop Making Sense as one could hope for. A special introduction by David Byrne, and a conversation with director Spike Lee will air at the beginning and end of each screening.


“The term ‘American Utopia’ is knowingly oxymoronic. A lot of the show is dedicated to wondering how things can be fixed, if they ever will be. But at the same time, it’s hard to watch Byrne’s warm and humanistic performance without grinning from ear to ear.” – Kambole Campbell, Hyperallergic

“The idea is that to survive—to live in any meaningful way—we must stay connected. It’s a principle so glaringly simple that it’s radical.” – Stephanie Zacharek, Time Magazine

“The exquisite blend of artistry, humanity and fervent politics makes American Utopia as much a David Byrne movie as a Spike Lee one.” – David Bax, Battleship Pretension