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By Chris Gore | July 4, 2001

Nothing makes me feel better about myself more than watching the pathetic lives of other people. It warms my heart. So you definitely want to see this indie film, American Movie. This hilarious documentary by Chris Smith is about a regular Joe from Wisconsin who attempts to make a horror film. Mark Borchardt has wanted to make films all of his life. When his film “Northwestern” a drama, does not come to fruition, he tries his hand at making a short horror film called “Coven” which is prounounced incorrectly throughout the film. In Mark’s mind, “Coven” should not rhyme with the word “oven” because it doesn’t sound right.
Mark’s boyhood friend Mike Schank is a drugged-out loser who helps him with his filmmaking. We follow Mark for four years in making his short film. We see everything from trying to raise a few thousand bucks for the film by borrowing money from his incoherent, senile old uncle to shooting bloody scenes on Christmas with his mom running the camera and ruining shots. It’s pathetic, sad and damn funny but one cannot help admiring Mark for his never-say-die attitude and desire to rise above the working class he was born into. This film is not only entertaining as hell it’s an inspiration to any filmmaker who ever struggled to make a movie. Which is just about every indie filmmaker.
Mark Borchardt’s story is like the Forrest Gump of filmmaking. And if tragedy is the root of comedy than American Movie could be one of the funniest films this year.

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