NEW LOCATION: Christ Church, 35 State St. Directions here.
Lynn Hershman Leeson’s new film Strange Culture is a brilliantly conceived documentary that breaks conventional rules out of the necessity to tell the story. Artist and college professor Steve Kurtz was preparing for a MASS MoCA exhibition that lets audiences test whether food has been genetically modified when, days before the opening, his wife tragically died of heart failure. Distraught, Kurtz called 911, but when medics arrived, they became suspicious of his art supplies and called the FBI. Dozens of agents in haz-mat suits sifted through his home and impounded his computers, books, cat, and even his wife’s body. The government held Kurtz as a suspected terrorist, and, nearly three years later, the charges have not been dropped. He still faces up to 20 years in prison.
Because Kurtz cannot legally talk about the case, Leeson enlists actors, including Tilda Swinton, Josh Kornbluth, and Peter Coyote, to interpret the story. Leeson skillfully weaves dramatic reenactment, news footage, animation, testimonials, and footage of Kurtz himself into a sophisticated documentary about post-9/11 paranoia and the risks artists face when their work questions government policies.
View a clip from the film here.
See a flyer for this event here.