‘Jay-Z: Made in America’ Trailer

Jay-Z: Made in America

Directed by Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon; A Beautiful Mind)

Produced by Howard and Brian Grazer (Katy Perry: Part of Me; Inside Deep Throat), Jonathan Silberberg (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory), Justin Wilkes (Under African Skies), Jay-Z

Starring Jay-Z, Eddie Vedder, Run DMC, Janelle Monae, Passion Pit, Kanye West, Dirty Projectors, D’Angelo, Skrillex

Quick take: Curious to see Howard’s first documentary as director, though hearing his voice from behind the camera only makes me laugh thanks to Arrested Development. I saw a commenter compare this to Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, and I get a similar albeit less comedic vibe, too.

Premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2013. Debuts on Showtime on October 11, 2013.

Synopsis, via TIFF:

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard joins us onstage for a live conversation, preceded by the world premiere of his star-studded concert documentary (screening at the Festival alongside Howard’s Rush), which recounts Jay Z’s rise to rap supremacy, as well as his preparations for the titular music festival he both curated and headlined.

Whatever the discipline — acting, producing or directing — the prolific Ron Howard has always been one to try new things, and to celebrate the talents of those around him. In this Mavericks session, we present a live conversation with Howard, preceded by the world premiere of his new music documentary, Made in America.

Drawn from an enormous trove of performance footage and backstage interviews, Made in America captures the inaugural edition of an exciting new festival created by rapper and impresario Jay Z, which rocked Philadelphia over Labour Day weekend last year. In keeping with his excellent and eclectic taste, Jay Z’s extraordinary hand-picked lineup speaks to his broad and inclusive view of American culture.

Artists whose performances are excerpted in the film include Pearl Jam, Odd Future, Dirty Projectors, Skrillex, Santigold, and Janelle Monáe, not to mention Run-DMC, who, in one of the film’s more moving and entertaining segments, give their first live performance since the death of their DJ Jam Master Jay in 2002.

As seen through Howard’s affectionate gaze, Made in America is a love letter not only to Jay Z and his unique project, but also to the city of Philadelphia. Fascinating interludes include one-on-ones with audience members about what the show means to the Philly community — the responses are both positive and negative. Howard explores the birthplace of American Independence and how it relates to this unprecedented event. He even takes some time to follow a local hip-hop group through its attempt to get added to the prestigious bill.

Don’t miss this invigorating documentary — and a conversation with one great artist about witnessing the fulfillment of another’s dream.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.