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 Monae, 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.