“American Teen” intimately captures the lives of four teenagers in one small town in central Indiana through their senior year of high school. Through cinema verite footage, interviews, and animation, “American Teen” presents a candid portrait of being 17—the insecurity, the cliques, the jealousies, the first loves and heartbreaks, the experimentation with sex and alcohol, the parental pressures, and the struggle to make profound decisions about the future. Filming daily for ten months, filmmaker Nanette Burstein developed a remarkably close rapport with her subjects. The result is a film that goes beyond the enduring stereotypes of high school – the nerd and the jock, the homecoming queen and the arty misfit – to render complex young people trying to find their way into adulthood.
About the Filmmaker
Nanette Burstein’s producing and directing credits include a collaboration with Brett Morgan, “On the Ropes,” a low-budget documentary that follows the fates of three young boxers and their trainer. The film, shot mainly on BetaSP, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary (feature length), won Special Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance, and won the Director’s Guild of America’s award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, among other awards. In 2002 she and Morgen teamed up again for the Robert Evans biography “The Kid Stays in the Picture.” The film was very positively reviewed and won the International Press Academy, Boston Society of Film Critics, and Seattle Film Critics award for Best Documentary. In 2004, she produced a documentary television show “Film School” for IFC with Jordan Roberts, following four film students at their alma mater, Tisch. In 2007 Burstein was executive producer and writer on the VH1 Rock Doc “NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell” which showcases the rise of hip hop, punk, disco, and graffiti in New York City in 1977. She also executive produced the doc American Shopper.
Her latest documentary “American Teen” was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. For the project, she lived in the small town of Warsaw, Indiana for 10 months, filming daily. She ended up with 1000 hours of footage, which took a year to edit.