"American Movie" Is Released

American Movie is a 1999 documentary about the making of an independent film.

Milwaukee filmmaker Mark Borchardt feverishly works to finish his independent horror film Coven, but with poor financing and lack of planning finds it nearly impossible to complete. The documentary follows Borchardt's filmmaking process from script to screen, and is interspersed with footage from both developing projects. American Movie was produced by Sarah Price, edited by Jun Diaz and Barry Poltermann and directed by Chris Smith.

The film is subtitled "The Making of Northwestern", but only the first fifteen minutes of the film are about the making of Northwestern; the rest of the film centers on the making of Coven.

The film was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.

An insightful, funny, not-to-be-missed documentary about a no-budget Wisconsin filmmaker who makes a horror film as if his life depended on it. And as Chris Smith so affectingly reveals, Mark Borchardt's hopes really do hang in the balance. This knowing and often hilarious look at try-anything indie filmmaking becomes a moving portrait of one man's uphill struggle and finds Mr. Borchardt often describing success and prosperity as his goals. Meanwhile his own life is eloquently presented as a very different, no less authentic kind of American Dream. — Janet Maslin, The New York Times