“…A movie being born as you see it and hear it, as alive as music.”

Sam Green’s Utopian Cinema

The word utopia means, literally, no place and this is a movie that unlike almost all other movies can only be in one place at a time, this place you‘re in now with its filmmaker Sam Green and musicians Yo La Tengo. This is a film that‘s both about utopia and an attempt to embody it by weaving together images and ideas and spoken words that will never be replicated exactly, a movie being born as you see and hear it, as alive as music.

Maybe little utopias are realized all the time, the utopias of people together in spirit and in body for a dance or a protest and everything in between. And sometimes we only realize their sweetness as they recede. A lot of us now look back at the golden age of cinema as a bygone paradise, a minor but sublime coexistence of strangers in the dark drawn together to see a flicker of projected light come to life onscreen.

Television chopped up movies with commercials and put them in the middle of domestic distraction, but that was nothing compared to this moment when films are on your iPhone and your laptop and in fuzzy tiny windows on YouTube. The worst thing about these new modes of viewing isn‘t that they diminish cinema as visual and imaginative spectacle. The worst thing is that they‘re watched furtively and alone. Cinema, which was once a great banquet in a dream palace is now often a snack devoured absentmindedly in isolation. And only in society, only together, do we have the power to live out those old dreams, or new ones.

Utopia is sociable, and The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller gives you back the sociability of a movie, the way it was always about coexisting, by making it as live as a silent movie with an orchestra, a nineteenth-century chautaqua lecture, a sermon or a party. Take it as an invitation to think about utopia, not only the old ones that might have failed, but whatever faint aroma of paradise might arise in a room where you hope and think and breathe with others.

About the Film

The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller is a new “live documentary” by Academy Award-nominated director Sam Green (The Weather Underground) featuring a live score by the legendary indie rock band Yo La Tengo.

The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller traces the career of twentieth-century futurist, architect, engineer, inventor, and author R. Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983). An early proponent of environmental stewardship, Fuller spoke persuasively about contemporary design and architecture’s ability to tackle issues of sustainability and conservation, and to stimulate radical societal change.

At every screening, Green narrates the film in person and cues images from a laptop while Yo La Tengo performs their original score. The performance is  a follow-up to Green’s internationally-acclaimed live film Utopia in Four Movements, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. This new work features the same unique combination of film clips and live music, as Green’s in person cinematic narration draws inspiration equally from old travelogues, the Benshi tradition, and TED talks.