Strange Culture (Sundance Film Reviews)

Posted by Tim Posada On 4:47 PM
Strange Culture is a documentary about post 9/11 paranoia and the power of the government over artistic expression. It documents the story of Steve Kurtz who was arrested as a potential terrorist and is now being charged for mail fraud with a possible penalty of 20-years jail time. Kurtz originally called the police when his wife had heart failure. When the police arrived they saw Kurtz’s lab and chemicals. Considering them suspicious, they called the FBI who came into investigate. Kurtz was preparing for an art show that merged chemicals and art. Even though everything Kurtz had was legal, the FBI continued its investigation because of several things that seemed suspicious: a flyer for an art show that had Aramaic writing on it, the laboratory windows were covered with aluminum, Kurtz was a liberal professor, and many lab samples contained bacteria. It would later be learned that the bacteria was plant and fruit bacteria ordered online. Because of this online transaction, Kurtz is currently being charged with mail fraud—the only thing the FBI has been able to prove. While mail fraud is normally a civil matter, the FBI is trying to make it something more, thus making the penalty much worse than a fine.
Strange Culture is an interesting documentary to reveals something that many are currently very frustrated with. It reveals what happens when paranoia takes over logic in an age that is convinced that everyone is a terrorist—it’s Good Night and Good Luck for the current time. Unfortunately, the documentary was poorly made. The music felt like the soundtrack to a soft-core porno. The narrative flow of Strange Culture was unfortunately reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean 2: awkward, never-ending, and just lacking. With that said, it was an intriguing story poorly attempted.

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