The 135-minute film premiered as part of the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival last winter and was screened at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. In addition to the August theatrical release, Passing Strange will also be part of PBS' "Great Performances" series in 2010.
Lee and his crew filmed Passing Strange live at the Belasco Theatre during its Broadway run on July 19, 2008, a day prior to the musical's final performance. Passing Strange features a Tony Award-winning book by Stew, lyrics by Stew, and music by Stew and his longtime musical partner Heidi Rodewald of The Negro Problem.
The documentary of Passing Strange captures original cast members Stew and Rodewald, as well as de'Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Chad Goodridge and Rebecca Naomi Jones. The on-stage band includes Jon Spurney, Christian Cassan and Christian Gibbs.
With the aid of director and collaborator Annie Dorsen, Passing Strange incorporates autobiographical elements of Stew's life to tell the story of a young black bohemian who leaves behind his middle-class, church-ruled upbringing in Los Angeles to travel abroad in search of his artistic and personal identity.