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Strange Culture (2007)

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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 304 users   Metascore: 70/100
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A documentary in which actors interpret the legally touchy subject of artist Steve Kurtz, who is being held as a suspected terrorist because of his work.

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Title: Strange Culture (2007)

Strange Culture (2007) on IMDb 6.2/10

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Credited cast:
Thomas Jay Ryan ...
Steve Kurtz
Hope Kurtz
Josh Kornbluth ...
Steve Kurtz ...
Shoresh Alaudini ...
Cassie Powell ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
FBI Agent
Gregg Bordowitz ...
Himself - Artist / CAE Defense Fund
Larissa Clayton ...
Beatriz da Costa ...
Susan Leeson ...
Herself (as Dr. Susan Leeson)
Marcie Prohofsky ...
FBI Agent


The surreal nightmare of internationally-acclaimed artist and professor Steve Kurtz began when his wife, Hope, died in her sleep of heart failure. Medics arrived, became suspicious of Kurtz's art, and called the FBI. Within hours the artist was detained as a suspected "bioterrorist", as dozens of agents in Hazmat suits sifted through his work and impounded his computers, manuscripts, books, cat, and even his wife's body. Today Kurtz and his long-time collaborator Dr. Robert Ferrell, former Chair of the Genetics Department at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, await a trial date. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

5 October 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Strange Culture  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Official Selection, Berlin International Film Festival, 2007 See more »


[first lines]
news caster: Like many an unfortunate drama, the story begins with a death. Steve Kurtz called 911 early on the morning of May 11th, after his wife suffered cardiac arrest and died in her sleep. When police arrived on the scene they saw not a 45-year old woman claimed well before her time, but rather petri dishes and sophisticated scientific equipment...
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User Reviews

The story must be heard, but the telling is flawed
27 September 2009 | by (Romania) – See all my reviews

It all starts with a real event, the arrest and then continuous harassment of Steve Kurtz from 2004 until 2008 for the sole reason that he used biological material as a kind of art form. The story, truly incredible, yet totally real, needs to be heard. It shows how, under the right motivation, the FBI can do almost anything to someone for no reason at all.

The film, however, is made almost like a conspiracy theory flick, one of those artsy, liberal, intellectual in your face things that don't gather the normal crowd of people because they are simply weird for a common person. You see a long haired university professor that works with bacteria as an art form in order to promote awareness of genetically modification in the foods marketed in the US. He is ridiculous! However, what happens to him (and his friends) is completely real.

Now, I think this story could have been told a lot better and it should have been because it is one of those tales that show how close a proud democracy can turn overnight into a dictatorship or a police state. There is one line in the film where Steve Kurtz says that if the legal precedent would have succeeded, the power of the Department of Justice would have doubled overnight, by simply allowing them to turn any civil misdemeanor into a criminal issue.

Bottom line: whether you will watch this film or not, Steve Kurtz is a man you should at least read about, get your facts straight, see how it could all have gone wrong for all of us if he (and perhaps a lot of people in his situation) would have caved in to the pressure.

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