“American Shopper” is a hybrid documentary that documents the introduction of “Aisling,” a new supermarket sport that promotes self-expression through creative shopping, and, in a larger sense, celebrates the human desire to rise above the ordinary. It follows eight “aislers” as they modify shopping carts, create costumes, and rehearse routines in preparation for the 1st National Aisling Championship that was held in Columbia, Missouri in the fall of 2005.
Though the premise is comic and absurd, the film’s strength is in its characters, who are all real people playing the roles of themselves. Through their journeys they reveal their reasons for why they “aisle”, which go beyond the competition. For some, “aisling” can be a way to break away from life-long patterns, for others it’s a path to redemption and realizing their full potential. These characters give the film the pathos of “Hands on a Hard Body”, the heart of “Spellbound” and the quirkiness of “Best In Show”.
Director Tamas Bojtor created the idea of "aisling” and wanted to introduce the sport and document the story of the “aislers”. He and fellow director Sybil Dessau selected actor Jonathan Gotsick to stand in his shoes as the inventor of “aisling” in the film. Although the film mixes fictional and documentary elements, the events that follow are all real and unscripted. The filmmakers and Jonathan didn't know what would happen when he presented the idea to Columbians. They didn't know if anyone would sign up to participate, much less who would win the championship. The film documents what happened when Jonathan introduced the idea in September 2005.