Strange Culture

(L5 Productions; on DVD)

| November / December 2007

After artist Steve Kurtz’s wife, Hope, died of heart failure in their bedroom in May 2004, police reeled when they discovered bacteria cultures and Arabic text in neighboring rooms. Though the harmless bacteria were props for an art exhibit and the text part of a gallery invitation, FBI agents in hazmat suits stormed the house, detained Kurtz, and autopsied Hope’s body, following post-9/11 protocol. No evidence of bioterrorism was found, but Kurtz and scientist Robert Ferrel were charged with wire and mail fraud. Director Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Strange Culture documents Kurtz’s lengthy legal battle, intercutting a rather banal reenactment of the events surrounding the case with courthouse footage, commentary, and vivid comics depicting the ludicrous proceedings.