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Unclassified 18+ 

Australian Premiere 31 May 2024

In the Playhouse


USA | 2024 | English | Documentary

Following its World Premiere at Sundance 2024, Sydney DEVOtees can now revel in the definitive new documentary about Akron, Ohio’s favourite De-Evolution radical pioneers, DEVO. Founded on a Dada-inspired philosophy of high art meets low, the band were hellbent on infiltrating American popular culture. Through never-before-seen archival footage and fresh interviews with the founding members, director Chris Smith’s documentary relishes in the ups, downs, surrealist situations and incredible performances of the band’s highly influential 50-year career. BYO energy dome!

Perverse, critical, pop culturally cracked and politically conscious.

Rolling Stone

Explores the genesis and career of the Akron new wave, punk band

Acclaimed filmmaker Chris Smith (Wham!, Fyre, 100 Foot Wave, and Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond) captures the gloriously radical spirit that is DEVO – a rare band founded by a philosophy; a Dada experiment of high art meets low, hellbent on infiltrating American popular culture. Through never-before-seen archival and interviews with Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh, and Jerry Casale, DEVO relishes in the highs, lows, surreal moments and incredible performances of a 50-year career, embracing the spectacle of the band from their lo-fi beginnings to pioneers of the music video in the early days of MTV’s cultural dominance.

Band members are open with their memories and archives, charting their origins as Kent State University arts students shaped by the activism of the late 1960s. Following the 1970 massacre on their campus, the band’s concept of cultural “De-Evolution” turned from satirical humour to urgent social commentary, and what began as subversive counterprogramming to KSU’s 1973 arts festival would go on to warn of, comment on, and reflect back the absurdism of the late 20th century. Finding mainstream success at the height of 1980s consumerism, DEVO soundtracked the De-Evolution they’d long predicted – and influenced a 21st century they’d have never believed.

Presented by Sydney Opera House and Groovescooter

Cast and credits

Director Chris Smith
Producer Danny Gabai, Chris Smith, Anita Greenspan, Chris Holmes
Executive Producers Mandy Chang, Stuart Souter, William Kennedy, Charles Cohen, Kathy Rivkin Daum, Stacy Smith, Stuart Goldstein, Vanessa Case
Co-Producer Sam Epstein

Other information

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