Can Real Life Sell?

by Chris Bodenner
Dan Zak explores the stereotypical bind of modern teen movies -- even with documentaries like the upcoming "American Teen":

We see a basketball star gunning for a scholarship, a popular queen bee awaiting admittance to Notre Dame, a loner in pursuit of a girlfriend. There's so much more to us, to the high school experience, than these conventions, and yet filmically we're constantly reduced for easier digestion. Shouldn't we expect more from such a powerful and imaginative art form?

Mark Olsen reported on suspicions that the film isn't an authentic documentary.  Director Nanette Burstein responded:

"There's accusations that it's staged and scripted and that I went after the stereotypes, and it's just not true. ... I think it's unusual to have a very narrative documentary, so people aren't used to it.  I think people have a hard time believing teenagers are willing to be that intimate on camera. So sometimes I feel I'm being criticized for what the film's achievements are. ... [But] I want to entertain people, I want to move them in the same way a fiction film would."

(For anyone interested in genre-bending documentaries, I'd recommend "American Movie" and "Capturing The Friedmans.")