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American movie

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

It takes a village to make a movie, but when that village is Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin and not Hollywood, California, the results are at times bizarre, comical and very American. With the help of his mother, his 82-year-old uncle and a local cast of hilarious and loveable characters, filmmaker Mark Borchardt fights his way through internal and external roadblocks to achieve his goal - to make his movie, his way.

Mark's vision for his dream film is unlike most in independent filmmaking today. His inspiration comes from films as disparate as Texas chainsaw massacre and The seventh seal, as well as his experiences growing up amidst the grey skies, rusty cars and ranch houses of Milwaukee's northwest side.

American movie is the story of filmmaker Mark Borchardt, his mission and his dream. Spanning over two years of intense struggle with his film, his family, financial decline and spiritual crisis, American movie is a portrayal of ambition, obsession, excess and one man's quest for the American dream.

Directed by Chris Smith and Sarah Price.

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

This is spinal faucet.

Boldly delving into the tragic life and times of a white trash filmographer with too much chutzpah and not enough alcohol, American movie is a not too subtle look at how indie filmmakers do their thing: begging, stealing and borrowing for all their life's worth (which, I admit, is not a great deal). Having been involved in more Visa-budget films than he cares to remember, I can further state that this is how indie films are made. You want glamour? Get a job at McDonald's.

It should be noted that American movie would not have been worth making if Mark were not so tragic. He is the type of person who would go on Rikki Lake for the I diddled my family to make a movie special. If there were something in it for him, of course. He is loud, obnoxious, overbearing, tacky... well, I need only say that Mark is American and you will understand.


Mark's friends and family all take part in this documentary without hesitation, spilling their guts in glorious Trailercolour. Like a big screen Jerry Springer, they run rampant over each other in the rush to condemn, control and cajole. Watching Mark put the hit on his elderly grandfather is like seeing a road accident: you won't be able to tear your eyes away. Friend and fellow film conspirator (composer, cameraman, actor...) Mike Schank is a walking road kill. You couldn't create a character like this: it would be unbelievable.

If you are neither a filmmaker nor a fan of trailer park trash (for some unexplained reason the two often go hand in hand) nor even an anthropology student (this is a great examination of the lower socio-economic demographic) then it's not the film for you. American movie really is a special interest release and won't get a much wider audience than mentioned above, and that's sad because it deserves to be seen by more people than that. It's bitingly funny and cringingly truthful and there ain't many films about which I will say that.

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level coarse language, medium level violence)

Surveillance time

101 minutes (1:41 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

11 October 2000

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