Sunday, August 24, 2008

American Teen article.

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'American Teen' (Not a pretty picture)
By JOE SCOTT

A high school senior from Warsaw, Ind., uses her camera phone to snap a topless photo of herself and send it to her quasi-boyfriend.

The boyfriend responds by forwarding the photo to one of his buddies.

By the end of the week, the senior's entire school has seen her photo, her friends won't speak to her, and she gets harassing cell-phone calls from complete strangers during the middle of the night.This act of cyber-bullying, which would have been technologically impossible even 10 years ago, is but one of the minor stories in American Teen, the newest documentary from director Nanette Burstein (The Kid Stays in the Picture, On the Ropes).

The movie had its N.C. debut in April at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, and Burstein was on hand to speak with festival attendees and the local press.

"It's not uncommon, and I think it's because of that age, you're not thinking about their futures and the consequences of their actions," Burstein says of the camera-phone incident. "They don't think about the future.

"I think in five or 10 years from now that might be different, but the Internet hasn't been around that long, especially with the speed that it's at with the texting and being able to send jpegs and videos."

(Click here to read the rest of the story....)

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In other news, American Teen is tanking at the box-office, which is funny because the film was supposed to trigger this big movement towards the visibility of 'real kids' in the media (i.e., not The Hills). So what happened? Was the public simply not ready or willing to receive the 'real-core' movement?

Maybe.

However, a friend of mine from Hollywood had another explanation. He said that the film's TV ads did a poor job of defining the project as a documentary. And he's right. The trailers would give anyone who hasn't seen the film the impression that it was a narrative feature, albeit with insanely low production values. Also, the audiences that have made documentaries like No End in Sight and Why We Fight moderate successes would be turned off completely. Sure both of those movies made about $1.5 million each, but that's much better than the $722,594 American Teen has made so far with an exponentially higher marketing budget.

It's a real shame, too, because American Teen is a really good film. Sure, some people have called the movie a fake, but it is still compelling to watch, and the antidote for this current wave of crappy late August releases like Death Race. So do what I am going to do tonight, and check the film out.

And if you're still not convinced that you should see the film, my friend Glen Baity liked the film a great deal, too.

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