watch the first trailer for david byrne’s ‘contemporary color,’ featuring st vincent and dev hynes
The ecstatic, euphoric color guard documentary finally has a theatrical release date, and it couldn’t come soon enough.
Back in April, I attended the world premiere of Contemporary Color — the documentary capturing David Byrne's color guard stadium spectacular, staged at New York's Barclays Center in the summer of 2015. Since then, I have been impatiently waiting for Contemporary Color to secure a theatrical release date so my friends and loved ones could finally see why I've been banging on about it. At long last, that day is on the horizon; it's been revealed that Contemporary Color will open at New York's IFC Center on March 1, followed by screenings at select theaters around the US.
The film's shiny new trailer summarizes what makes it so special. Basically: at some point in his magically creative life, the former Talking Heads frontman became fascinated by color guard, a sport in which props including flags, sabres, and guns are incorporated into larger choreographed routines, typically staged at high school football halftime shows. Though color guard requires rigorous practice and skill, many of its athletes aren't often viewed in the same light as the football stars and cheerleaders they share the field with (in the fall — winter guard, as you'll soon learn, is real and competitive as hell).
Byrne decided to open our eyes to how cool color guard's colorful culture is by uniting 10 of the nation's top guards with 10 leading contemporary composers (Devonté Hynes, St. Vincent, Tune Yards, How to Dress Well, Zola Jesus, members of the Beastie Boys) to perform live, together. Each composer created an original work based on the guard's competition routine — highly intricate moves they've practiced all year — in just one week. The guard and their composer then performed together in front of 18,000 people at Barclays.
This was all captured by Bill and Turner Ross, the filmmaking siblings behind immersive, community-driven documentaries like Tchoupitoulas and Western. Rather than simply shooting the performances, the Ross brothers embedded themselves in the guard's communities. There are characters, there are obstacles, there are lifelong friendships, there are stage moms, there are bewildered Barclays Center security guards. There's also real life diversity: the guard draws performers of all shapes, sizes, skin tones, walks of life. Through the Ross brothers' deeply humanizing lens, we meet all of them and share in their struggles and triumphs.
Contemporary Color is moving, but it's also laugh-out-loud funny — as if Spike Jonze and Best in Show's Christopher Guest shared directorial duties at a mega music festival. It's one of the best documentaries I've ever seen, and I can't wait any longer for others to see it too.
'Contemporary Color' opens at New York's IFC Theater on March 1, with an appearance by David Byrne. Tickets are on sale on February 27, 2017. More information here.
Text Emily Manning