Based on a Story

Flaherty Seminar, Colgate University, 2009
Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998
Lincoln Center, New York, 1998
Denver Film Festival, 1998
Mill Valley Film Festival, 1998
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 1998
International Jewish Festival - Best Documentary Award, 1998
MuuMediaFestival, 1998
Charlotte Film Festival - Jurors Documentary Award, 1998
Black Maria Film & Video Festival - Jurors Citation Award, 1998
Based on a Story explores the widely-publicized encounter between Jewish Cantor, Michael Weisser and Nebraska‚Äôs former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon, Larry Trapp.  After months of harassment from Trapp by mail, phone and cable TV, the Weisser family befriended Trapp, who then renounced the Klan, moved into the Weisser family's home and converted to Judaism.  Trapp, who was a double amputee and blind from childhood diabetes, died in the Weissers home six months after he moved in.  The Weisser/Trapp story, which was sold by the Weissers to the Disney Corporation, is presented as an intimate tale of family and childhood that evolves into a media event, built around fear and the shifting terrain of public and private life.  The film examines contradictory narratives of family, friends, congregation members and the media to explore the wide range of responses this story evoked.

This film interweaves interview footage with evocative visual imagery and a voice-over narrative.  Imagery of the Nebraska plains is layered with artifacts from Trapp's life, media footage from Trapp's Klan activities through to his funereal, and intimate moments of the Weisser's family home.  The unique visual construction of the film concludes with the narrator appearing on camera, suggesting that the film's narrative shares the constructive nature of the interview footage.
Based on a Story was created during an artist residency at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) designed to give artists and scientists working with new technologies the opportunity for collaboration.