Contemporary Color
May 2nd, 2017

Contemporary Color [2016]

Please join us for the Buffalo premiere screening of the Ross Brothers’ latest documentary Contemporary Color [2017], produced by David Byrne.

  • Screening Date: Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017 | 7:00pm
  • Venue: North Park Theatre
  • Specifications: 2017 / 97 minutes / English / Color
  • Director(s): Bill Ross IV & Turner Ross
  • Print: Supplied by Oscilloscope
  • Tickets: $10.50 general admission at the door

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

1428 Hertel Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216

TrailerSynopsisDirectors’ StatementDirectors BioLinks

Courtesy of website:

Contemporary Color is a performance event and now a major motion picture inspired by the phenomenon of color guard, colloquilally known as “the sport of the arts”—conceived by David Byrne, co-commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music and Toronto’s Luminato Festival, and with support from WGI Sport of the Arts. Ten 20-40 person teams from the US and Canada will perform at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, alongside an extraordinary array of musical talent—performing together live.

In David Byrne’s words:

Color guards are, well, high school (and college-level) “dance” groups who perform during half time at football games, and then compete amongst themselves later in the school year—usually in their school gymnasiums. They are, in my way of looking at them, a sophisticated folk art form that flies under the official cultural radar. They never get reviewed in the culture pages of the papers and most New Yorkers, I would wager, have never even heard or seen them (unless the New Yorkers grew up in one of the hundreds of towns where this culture thrives and evolves). I think it’s a wonderful, peculiar, under-appreciated and very creative artform and that deserves to be seen and experienced—in a slightly different context, by a wider public.

But how? The interesting thing about color guard is that the community is very insular, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be kind of great to ask some friends to collaborate with the team’s creative folks to create original music for these guys?” That idea blossomed into the event that is now being commissioned by BAM and Luminato Festival—Contemporary Color is a performance event, where the result of a year-long musical collaboration between 10 color guard teams and 10 composers will be presented live at the Air Canada Centre and Barclay’s Center in June 2015.

The performances will mimic the energy and granduer of the color guard World Championships that take place in Dayton, OH every April—but without the competitive aspect. Instead, the exhibition event will put these amazing teams on the stages of two premiere North American venues, to perform their programs alongside a live performance of the original score by the composers themselves—and accompanied by a live band. Elaborate costumes, professional athleticism combined with modern dance, and rock starsin their element—all culminating in the biggest glitter cannon show of your life.

Our primary goal is to enhance an already extremely compelling experience, and bring it to a brand new audience in two of the world’s most visible cultural centers. My experience with this Sport of the Arts, and those of my colleagues, has been so inspiring and amazing that we feel compelled to share it with as many people as possible. Luckily, we’ve found some other folks that agree.


  • Tribeca Film Festival – 2016 – Winner: Best Cinematography (Documentary) & Best Editing (Documentary)
  • CPH:DOX – 2017

Courtesy of presskit:

The marquees of the concert film canon include one of history’s most indelible, Stop Making Sense, the content of which was composed by our collaborator, David Byrne. With his and so many other extraordinary examples within that genre, we had no interest in retreading known ground. What we needed was an event as wild and alive and multi-versed as Contemporary Color in order to create something unique, something that could deviate away from the predictable. And so our pitch to David and his team was one we thought they might not accept: a kinetic portrait more akin to the Muppet Show or Wrestlemania – a show in which anything, anywhere could happen at any time – something that elevated the everyman and eschewed celebrity. But they accepted. The result was one of the most positive and inclusive experiences of our lives – a true collaboration on all levels with an epic team of all stripe, from the folks behind the scenes to the people behind the cameras, from the folks on the floor to those on stage and up to the rafters. We all learned from each other, collectively creating something we were proud of, and had a wonderful time doing it – together. We weren’t sure what color guard had in store for us, and it may well be our audience doesn’t yet know it, but we hope they’ll find, as we did, something vibrantly beautiful and emotional, poetically powerful and entirely unforeseen. Contemporary Color is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a celebration, of an event, of an artform, of musicality and humanity and movement – of a transcendent moment in America.

Photo by Henny Garfunkel

As brothers, we have worked together on everything for the past twenty-eight years. We have lived and created together for all of our lives. As adults, we moved to Los Angeles and began work in the film industry, honing our skills and crafting our roles as a unit. Five years ago we started off on an adventure to make our own films, free of the constrictions of commercial work. We are now producing our third independent documentary feature together. We conceive, scout, produce, shoot and edit all of our own work.

Courtesy of press kit:

The Ross Brothers are a documentary filmmaking team whose works have been featured at museums and festivals throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the British Film Institute, London. Their work has been supported by the Sundance Institute, the Rooftop Filmmaker’s Fund, Cinereach, The San Francisco Film Society, and the late Roger Ebert. Their first feature film, 45365, was the winner of the 2009 SXSW Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature and the Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award. They went on to receive numerous accolades, including nominations for Editing, Cinematography, and Debut Feature at the Cinema Eye Honors; the film was also broadcast as part of PBS’ Independent Lens. Their second feature, Tchoupitoulas, had its world premiere at SXSW in 2012 and premiered internationally at CPH:DOX, where it won Special Mention. It went on to receive awards at the Ashland Independent Film Festival (Best Documentary), the Dallas International Film Festival (Grand Jury Prize), and HotDocs (Emerging Artist Award). In 2015, they premiered Western at the Sundance Film Festival where it was presented the Jury Award for Verite Filmmaking. Western went on to receive a number of notable awards, including the SXSW Louis Black Lonestar Award, The AIFF Les Blank Award for Best Feature Length Documentary, and the San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Award, among others. Their latest project, Contemporary Color, premiered as the Opening Film of the World Documentary Competition at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, where it also took the top prizes for Cinematography and Editing.


  • Second Star to the Right and Straight on ‘Til Morning (2021)
  • Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (2020)
  • Contemporary Color (2016)
  • Western (2015)
  • Tchoupitoulas (2012)
  • 45365 (2009)

Here is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:

  • 4/25/17 – The Ross Brothers spoke at length about their experience directing Contemporary Color on the True/False Film Fest Podcast – link
  • 4/27/17 – “A gift to audiences everywhere, a spectacular kinetic pinwheel of a movie that whisks us away from big issues to celebrate an exceptional creative collaboration.” Peter Debruge, Varietylink

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