Political Film Society - Newsletter #290 - November 15, 2007

November 15, 2007


Americans, who feed on genetically modified organisms (GMO), are undergoing a massive human experiment in which Europe, Japan, and other countries are interested but skeptical spectators. Without knowing what is happening to their food, Americans are unwittingly becoming sick while corporations patent the GMOs and get rich. For example, tomatoes are injected with a fish enzyme to promote longer shelf life, and Americans allergic to fish are suffering gastric problems without knowing the cause. Hoping to expose the GMO conspiracy, art professor Steve Kurtz (played by Thomas Jay Ryan and himself) designed an art exhibition with his spouse Hope (played by Tilda Swinton) after Kurtz obtained some biological specimens from anti-GMO University of Pittsburgh biologist Robert Ferrell. On 5/11/2004, the day when the specimens were to be mailed to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Hope died unexpectedly. After calling 911 to report her apparent death, police as usual arrived at the scene to determine whether the death was a result of foul play. After seeing Petri dishes on display, their suspicions were further aroused on discovering an invitation to an art exhibit that happened to contain Arabic writing.

The FBI was summoned, Hope’s body was shipped to Quantico for an autopsy, and Kurtz was under investigation by a federal grand jury as a bioterrorist in collusion with Ferrell. Following their indictments, arraignments, and not guilty pleas, the case has been held over, neither prosecuted nor dismissed despite efforts of ACLU attorney Paul Cambia (played by himself). The semi-documentary of events in Strange Culture, directed by Lynn Hershman-Leeson, provides a horrifying illustration of how paranoiac the FBI has become in attempting to stop terrorism, how far jealous Justice Department attorneys will go to improve their visibility by pursuing absurd prosecutions that turn alleged civil crimes into major criminal offenses, how Congress blindly rubberstamps potentially unconstitutional anti-terrorism laws, and the resulting tragedy for innocent academics who are trying to live normal lives while caught up in a legal panic that has become so chronic that Kurtz’s students fear that they will suffer the same fate if they sign a petition to support him. The Political Film Society has nominated Strange Culture as best movie of 2007 in the categories of Exposé and Human Rights. Alas, the film is relegated to a basement art theater in downtown Los Angeles, far enough from residential areas to guarantee nonattendance. MH