Genre: Documentary / Docu-drama
Length: 75 minutes
Director: Lynn Hershman Leeson
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Peter Coyote, Thomas Jay Ryan, Josh Kornbluth and Steve Kurtz
Features: Theatrical Trailer; Filmmaker Interviews; Outtakes; Filmmaker Biography
In May 2004, Art Professor Steve Kurtz awoke to find his wife Hope dead of a heart attack. Lynn Hershman Leeson's docu-drama details how this simple tragedy erupted into the worst kind of post-9/11 Kafkaesque, McCarthyist nightmare imaginable. Steve Kurtz is still under investigation by the Department of Justice initially on charges of murder, then bio-terrorism and more recently wire-fraud (!)
Paramedics responding to his 911 call became suspicious of the numerous Petri-dishes contacted the FBI and Kurtz’ life shattered into a million pieces. Rather than simply use a series of interviews, Hershman has used the current in-vogue docu-drama technique of dramastizing certain key scenes with actors. Often the actors in these reconstructions are chosen for their blandness and/or similarity to their real-life counterparts, by contrast the two ‘leads’ are played by 2008 Academy Award Winner Tilda Swinton and Thomas Jay Ryan later interviews show that Kurtz and his wife are very, very different the actors portyaing them.
The traumatic events of 9/11 resonate for all the wrong reasons in Hershmans moving, though disturbing tale, amateurish attempts by one of the agencies to prompt something seditious or drug-related out of Kurtz to a total stranger who just ‘happened to be passing’ would be laughable if they were not so worrying. If the American government cannot even find an American citizen innocent in face of all available information, then those in Guantanamo and elsewhere have no-hope at all.
Strange Culture was an Official Selection for Sundance 2007 and the Berlin Film Festival 2007, it also won the Cinema of Conscience Award at the Wine Country Film Festival 2007.
An open honest tale of how governmental complexes obsessed with security waged war against their own citizens rather than face the simple embarrassment of admitting they were wrong.
Official Site http://www.strangeculture.net/
Contributions and further information on the legal case can be found at http://www.caedefensefund.org/