With director Chris Smith and Mark Borchardt in person
Dir. Chris Smith. 1999, 107 mins, 35mm. A sleeper hit when it came out in 1999, American Movie has aged into an American classic. A story of scrappy, cheapo, small-town filmmaking in the era just before the digital revolution, Chris Smith’s breakthrough documentary is both hilarious and poignant, sad and strangely exhilarating. Inspired by such films as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 和 Night of the Living Dead, movie-mad Milwaukee man Mark Borchardt had tried for years to make a feature film, but he always lacked the money, resources, and let’s say, “professionalism” to make it happen. In a questionable business move, and with the help of his sweet, mustachioed sidekick Mike Shank, Mark decides to finish and peddle his short film, Coven, in order to finance his dream picture, Northwestern. It would be an understatement to say that things don’t go according to plan, but Mark and Mike press forward, patron saints of cinematic folly. American Movie is the 2016 winner of the Cinema Eye Honors Legacy Award.