Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
September 23
November 5, 1999
American Cinema Shoots Itself

Several days after Halloween in 1999, sophisticated New York cineastes were treated to a real horror film, American Movie, a documentary about two would-be filmmakers stumbling after the American cinematic dream. Director Chris Smith had spend the last years following the progress of aspiring Milwaukee director Mark Borchardt and his best friend Mike Schank as they worked on a horror film, Coven. Though some accused Smith of treating the two men as figures of fun, American Movie captures their passion for film and depicts their sometimes inept low budget methods, offbeat views and mispronunciations (such as Coven, which Borchardt pronounces “coh-ven”) with genuine affection. The film catapulted Borchardt and Schank to unlikely star status as they traveled the world with the film giving highly entertaining Q&A sessions, appearing on talk shows and, in the case of Schank, even playing a version of himself in a movie (Todd Solondz’s Storytelling.) American Movie was a cult hit for Smith and his producing partner Sarah Price, and the pair followed it up by co-directing another humorous doc The Yes Men (2004), about two political pranksters.


More Flashbacks
The Silence September 23, 1963
The Silence opens

With The Silence, which opened in his native Sweden on September 23, 1963, director Ingmar Bergman completed his “religious chamber trilogy.” 

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Sep. 23, 1994
Shawshank Redemption released

When the fable-like prison drama The Shawshank Redemption opened in 1994, the filmmaker Frank Darabont was considered only a respectable writer and director of television horror.

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Sept 23, 1927
A Love Letter to Berlin

Walther Ruttman releases a film whose best performance is by a European city.

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