Strange Culture

Local filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson takes on both the federal government and the traditional documentary form in her harrowing account of an artist and academic who found himself on the wrong side of the Patriot Act. Hours after the unexpected death of his wife, Critical Art Ensemble's Steve Kurtz was illegally detained under suspicion of bio-terrorism due to nothing more than his unconventional-but legal and harmless-art supplies. Nearly four years later, he still faces up to twenty years in prison on highly dubious charges. Strange Culture incorporates reenactments by Tilda Swinton and Thomas Jay Ryan to depict aspects of the story Kurtz is legally forbidden to discuss. The film reminds us that we are all susceptible to such rights abuses, while suggesting that Kurtz's anti-GMO activism made him a particularly vulnerable target. It might make you think twice before calling 911 in our post-9/11 world.

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