Alternately teasing and terrifying, Strange Culture molds one man’s tragedy into an engrossing narrative.
In 2004, Steve Kurtz (Thomas Jay Ryan), an associate professor of art at the State University of New York, Buffalo, was preparing an exhibition on genetically modified food for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art when his wife, Hope (Tilda Swinton), died in her sleep of heart failure.
But when paramedics noticed petri dishes and other scientific paraphernalia in the home, they alerted the F.B.I. Within hours Mr. Kurtz found himself suspected of bioterrorism, his home quarantined and his wife’s body removed for autopsy.
Filmmaker Lynn Hershman-Leeson bends the nonfiction form to her own unconventional will. The result is a fascinating collage of re-enactments, news clips and interviews, illuminating not only the implications of corporate meddling in the food chain but the ease with which innocent civilian behavior can become a suspicious act.