Kurtz Documentary to be Screened at Sundance

Release Date: December 12, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A documentary film about Buffalo artist Steve Kurtz, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, will be among 71 short films to be screened next month at the Sundance Film Festival's 2007 Independent Film and World Cinema Competitions.

The film "Strange Culture," was made by award-winning filmmaker Lyn Herschman Leeman, and features Tilda Swinton and Peter Coyote. It will make its world premiere at Sundance.

The film follows the surreal experiences of Kurtz, a faculty member in the Department of Visual Studies in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, who awoke one morning in 2004 to find his wife dead of cardiac arrest. Police were called when EMTs found Petri dishes, bacterial cultures and scientific equipment, all of which Kurtz uses in art installations that examine practices, political context, social circumstances and ethical factors involved in the field of biotechnology. The authorities who responded to his 911 call found his art supplies suspicious and Kurtz was arrested and charged with bioterrorism. The charges have not been dropped; Kurtz faces up to 20 years in prison.

The festival's 71 short films were selected from 4,445 submissions from 19 countries. They include dramatic, documentary and animated films whose stories range from the plight of fallen cartoon heroes to the tale of a rat in the Manhattan subways and a mother's search for her son in hell.

The festival will run Jan. 18-28. From Jan. 18 to April 18, a selection of about 50 shorts will be available on the Sundance Web site at http://www2.sundance.org/.

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