Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Filtered reality from "American Teen's" Nanette Burstein

Earlier this year I interviewed director Nanette Burstein for Creative Screenwriting on the nature of documentary screenwriting--not necessarily a good idea to confuse reality with a written by credit, Burstein thought.  I'm returning to her film mainly because I was very intrigued by the story of a five Indiana high school seniors' lives.  I lived that year myself in 2007, not as a student, but as a parent of a senior.  What struck me most about the film, was that it captured the amount pressure students feel (to succeed in college applications, decide their future, etc). As Burstein found, "The hardest part of high school is finding out who you are and trying to maneuver through all that."  There's been some controversy around the film. Mark Olsen's story, in what's left of the LA Times, ably chronicles the drama and critical reaction surrounding the film. At the Sundance Film Festival screening Q&A I asked Burstein why there were no scenes of pot smoking, something as a parent of American teens, I would think would be rather rampant. Burstein agreed that there was, "definitely other stuff going on," but her concern was damaging her teen subjects' futures.  You can find them on the movie's Facebook page and each kid, Hannah, Colin, Mitch, Jake and Megan, has one too...just like real American teens.    


Pat said...

Well they ARE real American teens, right? Or do you think the film and/or marketing was more manipulated than a doc should be?

Kathy A. McDonald said...

At this point in their lives, they've morphed into performers/subjects on the media trail for Paramount Vantage who appears to be behind the Facebook page (s) complete with polls (which type are you, geek, jock, queen bee, etc.) I would put the film firmly in the docu-tainment category. Sometimes manipulation works; in this case, it just feels over done.

ng2000 said...
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