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Strange Culture

Overview

Filmmaker Lynn Hershman-Leeson examines a strange miscarriage of justice amplified by post-9/11 hysteria in this imaginative fusion of documentary and docudrama. Steve Kurtz is an artist and political activist who was an associate professor at the State University of New York's Buffalo campus and a member of a politically oriented creative collective known as the Critical Art Ensemble. In the spring of 2004, Kurtz was preparing an installation of pieces commenting on the potential dangers of genetically modified ...
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Overview

Filmmaker Lynn Hershman-Leeson examines a strange miscarriage of justice amplified by post-9/11 hysteria in this imaginative fusion of documentary and docudrama. Steve Kurtz is an artist and political activist who was an associate professor at the State University of New York's Buffalo campus and a member of a politically oriented creative collective known as the Critical Art Ensemble. In the spring of 2004, Kurtz was preparing an installation of pieces commenting on the potential dangers of genetically modified foods for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art when his wife, Hope Kurtz, unexpectedly suffered heart failure. Kurtz called 911 to report the emergency, but by the time the police arrived she was dead. While looking through Kurtz's home, authorities found petri dishes used to grow bacteria and genetically modified flies the artist had obtained for his exhibit; soon, a Hazmat crew had sealed off the house, and Kurtz was behind bars under laws designed to combat bioterrorism. While Kurtz purchased his materials legally through the Internet and the case against him is flimsy at best, the FBI has refused to drop charges against him, in part because the federal government is eager to strengthen bioterrorism laws rather than call attention to their flaws, and in part because the Food and Drug Administration would prefer to keep critics of bioengineered food which the FDA has embraced over the objection of many in the scientific community as quiet as possible. Since Kurtz is not able to tell his own story on camera, for the film Strange Culture Hershman-Leeson has combined interviews and newsreel footage with cinéma vérité-style re-creations, featuring actors Thomas Jay Ryan as Steve Kurtz, Tilda Swinton as Hope Kurtz, and Peter Coyote as Steve's associate Robert Ferrell. Strange Culture also features an original score by pioneering experimental rock group the Residents.
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Special Features

Theatrical trailer; Filmmaker interviews; Outtakes; Filmmaker biography
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/25/2008
  • UPC: 767685108796
  • Original Release: 2006
  • Source: Docurama
  • Time: 1:15:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 57,959

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tilda Swinton Participant
Thomas Jay Ryan Participant
Peter Coyote Participant
Josh Kornbluth Participant, Participant
Steve Kurtz Participant
Shoresh Alaudini Participant
Cassie Powell Participant
Larissa Clayton Participant
Technical Credits
Lynn Hershman-Leeson Director, Editor, Producer, Screenwriter
Steven Beer Producer
Jennifer Dean Casting
Jessie Fuller Executive Producer
Malina Jampolis Executive Producer
Dan Kessler Co-producer
Unsu Lee Associate Producer
Ben Leon Production Designer
Hiro Narita Cinematographer
Dan Olmsted Sound/Sound Designer
The Residents Score Composer
Eli T. Rosenberg Executive Producer
Loren Smith Co-producer
Amy Sommer Associate Producer
Lise Swenson Asst. Director, Producer
Barbara Tomber Co-producer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Strange Culture
1. Introduction [3:44]
2. Critical Art Ensemble Documentation [8:23]
3. Mass Moca Exhibition [5:00]
4. "My Wife's Not Breathing" [3:11]
5. "He Was Leaving His House" [4:47]
6. Petition in Class [7:40]
7. Constructing an Identity [8:16]
8. "How Did It Go Today?" [11:40]
9. "My Name Is Peter Coyote" [4:52]
10. We Believe Very Strongly [6:54]
11. He Could Go to Jail [4:48]
12. Credit [5:24]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Strange Culture
   Play
   Chapters
   Extras
      Bonus Interviews 82min
         Lynn Hershmann Leeson 46min
         Lynn Hershmann Leeson and Steve Kurtz 36min
      Outtakes 7min
      Where Are They Now?
      Original Trailer
      Filmmaker Statement
      Filmmaker Bio
      About Docurama
         Trailers
            Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back
            Air Guitar Nation
            A Crude Awakening
            The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
      Docurama Trailers
         Bob Dylan - Don't Look Back
         Air Guitar Nation
         A Crude Awakening
         The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
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