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David Byrne's New Doc 'Contemporary Color' Shows Off 'Art Sport' And Indie Stars

St. Vincent performs in tandem with a color guard team at the Barclays Center on June 27, 2015.closemore
St. Vincent performs in tandem with a color guard team at the Barclays Center on June 27, 2015.

On June 27, 2015, David Byrne — never one who shies away from a grand gesture — paired 10 color guards with well-known musicians, including the Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock, Devonté Hynes, tUnE-yArDs and St. Vincent, on the stage of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a show he called "Contemporary Color," which is now a promising documentary of the same name.

If you're not familiar with color guard, you're not alone: Byrne told the New York Times he estimated it was "completely unknown to 98 percent of New Yorkers." For the uninitiated, color guard is a form of beautifully melodramatic flag-waving, saber-tossing choreography. (Virginia's McLean High School has a helpful introduction in the form of its color-guard recruitment video.)

While a Times review of the "Contemporary Color" live show was mixed, the documentary's ability to examine the interior lives of the performers, the history of color guard and the jubilation backstage promises an entirely more revealing, and resonant, portrait.

The movie, which won the Documentary Cinematography Prize at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, is clearly aiming for the heart's bullseye: an intended palliative for this difficult modern moment. "We need an antidote, and here it is," as Byrne put it in a statement released in conjunction with the trailer. "The world is better than we think it is."

Copyright NPR 2017.

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