January 21, 2008

Sundance. American Teen.

American Teen "Love trauma, bullying, spin the bottle, cat fighting, sexual experimentation, alienation, alcohol use, parental stress, insecurity and the pressure to get into college... These issues and more form the backdrop to Nanette Burstein's spectacularly received American Teen, which had its world premiere Saturday afternoon in the Sundance documentary competition," writes indieWIRE's Brian Brooks. "Over the course of their senior year in a conservative mostly white small town in Indiana, the film intimately captures the lives and tribulations of four different teenagers."

Updated through 1/25.

"It was clear that the film had generated interest by the flashes of blue light in the audience, as acquisition folks frantically texted their business affairs departments to start negotiations," reports Monica Corcoran, who talks with Burstein for the Los Angeles Times. On Sunday morning, she "said that she had been 'in talks' until 4 that morning with potential buyers. 'It's been surreal in a good way,' she said. 'I just want it to find the right home.'"

Writing in Variety, Dennis Harvey finds the film "so packed with high dramatic incidents among classic character types that a skeptical viewer may well wonder just how freely direction and editing sculpted real life into something more like... well, The Real World.... [A]ll the boring and routine parts [are] mysteriously absent from edited-within-an-inch-of-its-life package."

The Reeler talks with Burstein.

Update: "Burstein's trim, fast-moving film utilizes tricks and techniques that would give old-schoolers such as [Frederick] Wiseman and the Maysles Brothers rage attacks," writes Premiere's Glenn Kenny. "The pop soundtrack, the voiceovers, the graphic collages, the ANIMATION SEQUENCES illustrating the dreams and desires of some of its subjects... none of it's a surprise, coming as it does from the co-director of the Bob Evans fantasia The Kid Stays in the Picture, but all of it does raise the question of just how documentary is defining itself these days."

Updates, 1/25: Online listening tip. James Rocchi talks with Burnstein for Cinematical.

"Warsaw Community High School may not be the place to find a perfect statistically average high school that represents America (as if any such school really exists) - it's mostly White, impressively well-appointed, and looks fairly new - but it's where Burstein shot, every day, for 10 months. And you get drawn into these kid's lives - their struggles, their challenges, their triumphs -- so fiercely that you cannot help but be enthralled." Now James Rocchi's got a review, too; at Cinematical, where Eric D Snider declares, "It's absolutely my favorite movie of the festival."

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Posted by dwhudson at January 21, 2008 7:52 AM