The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. For more information on films playing in the Cinémathèque, please call 773-281-4114. To order advance tickets online, visit the TicketWeb website by clicking here.
"It's absorbing in a sick way" -New York Times
"Pushing past tired critiques of boob-tubery...American Cannibal quickly gnaws its way to a richer vein: the desperate stink of smart people selling out" -Time Out NY
"It's insightful as well as entertaining, and ...functions as both an intelligent critique and a dire warning." -TV Guide
"Darkly entertaining" -Chicago Reader
In this morality tale for our times, two struggling, desperate-for-success TV writers partner with a porn promoter to create a shocking reality show involving cannibalism and a desert island. More than just gripping entertainment, this documentary raises provocative questions about how far people will go in pursuit of fame and fortune, and how low television will stoop in search of the industry's own holy trinity: viewers, ad dollars, and relevance. Struggling sitcom writers Dave Roberts and Gil S. Ripley are urged by their manager to focus on reality programming. After being spurned by one network after another, they start to pitch increasingly outrageous concepts, finally hooking up with Kevin "K.B." Blatt, the promoter behind the Paris Hilton sex tape. Blatt enthusiastically bankrolls the Darwinian "American Cannibal," a show that originated as an absurd example of how far reality TV could be pushed. Contestants on this disturbing show are starved on a desert island for days and then scared with hints of cannibalism. The drama behind the actual documentary stems from its exploration of the two writers' moral evolution: While Roberts turns giddy at the prospect of a hit show, Ripley grows increasingly disillusioned. When one of the contestants becomes critically injured, Roberts beats himself up on camera, and both he and Ripley bail on the project. The inescapable irony is that Roberts and Ripley have inadvertently become stars of their own reality show. Directors Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro have crafted a potent, poignant real-life drama with penetrating insight into society's debasing obsession with fame at any price.
Directed by Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro, 2006, U.S.A., BetaSP, 87 mins.