There may be no more heroic journey from a more delusional character, thus no more American a story, than American Movie. Tracing Mark Borchardt’s laudable, drive to craft his independent horror film Coven – the hoped-for sales profits from which would go toward the financing of his pet project, the feature-length drama Northwestern.
Chris Smith’s film is sympathetic and revealing of the madness that is artistic drive. Smith’s gift is to never overly chide his subject, simply letting the events that transpired during the making of this witchy indie film play out. Along the way, we meet a veritable menagerie of dreamers and enablers that provide the documentary with much of its charm.
A testament to fortitude, and a genuinely entertaining film, American Movie remains a peerless documentary. Twenty years after its initial release, it remains a vital part of the non-fiction canon, a warm look at artistic folly that speaks to the delusional dreamer in all of us.