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American Movie (1999)

R  |   |  Documentary  |  13 April 2000 (Australia)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 13,217 users   Metascore: 84/100
Reviews: 143 user | 69 critic | 29 from

Documentary about an aspiring filmmaker's attempts to finance his dream project by finally completing the low-budget horror film he abandoned years before.


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4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Schimmels ...
Actor in 'Coven'
Monica Borchardt ...
Mark's Mom
Alex Borchardt ...
Chris Borchardt ...
Ken Keen ...
Mike Schank ...
Friend / Musician
Matt Weisman ...
Casting director
Bill Borchardt ...
Mark's Uncle / Executive Producer (as Uncle Bill)
Cliff Borchardt ...
Mark's Dad
Tom Beach ...
Production manager
Joan Petrie ...
Mark's Girlfriend / Associate Producer
Robert Richard Jorge ...
Dean Allen ...
Props / Special effects
Tommy Dallace ...
The Movie Star


On the northwest side of Milwaukee, Mark Borchardt dreams the American dream: for him, it's making movies. Using relatives, local theater talent, slacker friends, his Mastercard, and $3,000 from his Uncle Bill, Mark strives over three years to finish "Covan," a short horror film. His own personal demons (alcohol, gambling, a dysfunctional family) plague him, but he desperately wants to overcome self-doubt and avoid failure. In moments of reflection, Mark sees his story as quintessentially American, and its the nature and nuance of his dream that this film explores. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 April 2000 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

American Movie: The Making of Northwestern  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$20,260 (USA) (5 November 1999)


$1,160,426 (USA) (21 April 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Mark Borchardt says the word "man" 151 times. See more »


Mark Borchardt: Would you buy this movie for $14.95?
Friend/Musician: Yeah, hell yeah, man.
Mark Borchardt: If I can find 3,000 people like you across this country, man, I'm in business.
Friend/Musician: Of course, man, I mean... Shit, that's what "Rush" tickets were.
See more »


Featured in Mark Borchardt Was in 'The One' with Jet Li (2002) See more »


Hopping On Mellow Stones
Written & performed by Mike Schank
used by permission of 33rd St. Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Well Made Documentary; Heartbreaking
6 August 2003 | by (L.A. CA) – See all my reviews

This is a very well made documentary. I read some of the other comments and I get a feeling that a few of these viewers don't watch too many documentaries (and all the reality TV crap doesn't count). Yes, this movie is painful at times because of the ineptness of the horro film director struggling to get his pals and relatives to help him make his demonic movie. But it shows someone (however debatable his talent)following a dream, a passion, a desire to do something. To break out of his hellish life of debts, and child out of wedlock and dreary 9-5 job. The camera captures wonderful moments of human behavior and just like project Greenlight, it shows what happens when people get in over their heads with trying to just film a simple scene (or a scene where someone's head has to go through a cabinet, or an old man has to clearly say ONE line and can't, etc.) BUT, a much better documentary about the same world is the much earlier 1975 documentary Demon Lover Diary - where someone tagged along as these Michigan guys tried to make their horror film. Hard to track down but highly recommended.

12 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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