Profile - Nanette Burstein

Nanette Burstein

Name Nanette Burstein

Born 23 May, 1970, Buffalo, New York

Background Burstein’s graduate film from New York University Tisch School of Arts became her debut feature-length documentary. The Oscar nominated On the Ropes portrayed three young boxers trying to fight their way out of Bedford Stuyvesant, New York. In 2002 Burstein co-produced and co-directed The Kid Stays in the Picture, the portrait of legendary 1970s Hollywood producer Robert Evans. She has also produced and directed the US television series Say it Loud: A Celebration of Black Music in America, and has shot commercials for Nike and Footlocker.

What’s she up to now? Her latest cinema documentary is American Teen, which follows the experiences of various high school seniors in Warshaw, Indiana over the course of a scholastic year.

On choosing the right school ‘I decided on the Mid West, because there’s more of a timelessness and innocence in this part of the country. I found ten schools that were interested, and I interviewed students that were willing to participate. In the end the Warshaw school had the most compelling stories.’

On earning trust ‘If you are going to make a film where you want people to be quite intimate on camera, you have to have an intimate relationship with them: I don’t mean romantically, but you have to have a close friendship. I spent a lot of time just talking to the teenagers.’

On technology ‘Technology has made the experience of being a teenager more extreme. They tend not to think about the consequences of their actions and now they are able to instantly disseminate information through texting and Facebook. Technology reinforces their belief that they are at the centre of the universe.’

Interesting fact Burstein is one of the owners of a bar called The Half King in Manhattan.

American Teen, selected release, Fri 6 Mar.

American Teen

  • 2 stars
  • 2008
  • US
  • 1h 41min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Nanette Burstein
  • Written by: Nanette Burstein
  • Cast: Hannah Bailey, Colin Clemens, Megan Krizmanich, Jake Tusing, Mitch Reinholt

Nauseating reality TV style documentary about a year in the lives of four teenagers in the senior year of a high school in Indiana.

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