While running late for the DVD Release Party of Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles at the Trocadero Theatre on February 6, a friend casually remarked, “I don’t think we’ll have to worry. The line for the last screening wrapped around the corner. But who comes out on a Monday night to see an art documentary?”

A few hours and 500 people later, it became eminently clear that quite a lot of people do — at least, when said art documentary revolves around a mystery over thirty years in the making. For artist Justin Duerr, the tantalizing tiles he noticed embedded in street corners during treks throughout Philadelphia offered too great a call to ignore.

Known as the Toynbee Tiles, this street art of unknown origin has been spreading paranoiac messages about the media all along the east coast, and even as far as South America, since the early Eighties. As the Wikipedia page relates, the tiles carry variations on the following message:

TOYNBEE IDEA
IN Kubrick’s 2001
RESURRECT DEAD
ON PLANET JUPITER

Richard Dreyfuss might be apt to jump to extraterrestrial conclusions when encountering repetitive, inexplicable messages, but Justin and the team of Toynbee enthusiasts he encounters in Resurrect Dead remain just as assiduous in their search for a strictly human explanation. Director Jon Foy’s Philadelphia-based documentary will take you on a journey over familiar streets, as clues and red herrings battle with each other and with the audience’s curiosity. While this Philadelphia hunt doesn’t involve Nicholas Cage and the Declaration of Independence, local viewers may find this mystery even more exciting, if only because the very real solution lies surprisingly close to home.

Find future screenings here, or relive the mystery again and again on DVD. Find the upcoming schedule for Movie Mondays at the Troc here.

Susan Leshnoff

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