IN SEARCH OF AMERICA

In the midst of the U.S. presidential primaries, a man travels across the country inviting people from all walks of life to offer their thoughts on the major issues of the days.

  • Marc Kornblatt
    Director
    Dostoevsky Behind Bars, Street Pulse, What I Did in Fifth Grade, Because It's Small, While it Lasts, Bring on the Magic, Still 60
  • Marc Kornblatt
    Writer
    Dostoevsky Behind Bars, Street Pulse, What I Did in Fifth Grade, Still 60, Because It's Small, Last Seder?, Bring on the Magic
  • Marc Kornblatt
    Producer
    Street Pulse, Dostoevsky Behind Bars, Because It's Small, What I Did in Fifth Grade, Last Seder?, Bring on the Magic, Still 60
  • Film Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Documentary
  • Runtime:
    57 minutes 15 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 13, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Twin Cities Film Fest
    St. Louis Park, Minnesota
    United States
    September 3, 2016
    World
  • River's Edge International Film Festival
  • Oneota Film Festival
    Decorah, Iowa
    United States
    March 10, 2017
Director Biography - Marc Kornblatt

Born in Edison, NJ, Marc Kornblatt started out as an actor in New York after college (Brandeis Univ.), turned to playwriting, earned an MA in journalism (NYU), wrote for magazines and newspapers, published children’s books, married, became a father, then returned to college to become a teacher. Working in an elementary school with a large underprivileged population, he began making music videos. That led to short narratives, documentaries and the founding of Refuge Films.

He has since produced more than 100 films, including the feature-length documentaries STREET PULSE, the award-winning DOSTOEVSKY BEHIND BARS and WHAT I DID IN FIFTH GRADE, which he filmed himself over the entire length of his final year in the classroom. Kornblatt retired from teaching in 2015 to devote himself to full-time filmmaking.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

This project began with a magazine article I read about Robert Frank, a Swiss-born photographer who traveled around the United States in the 1950s taking pictures. After two years, he collected 27,000 images from which he selected 83 for his now classic collection, THE AMERICANS.

Though I was acquainted with Frank's mentor, Walker Evans, whose collaboration with writer James Agee led to NOW LET US PRAISE FAMOUS MEN, a classic book about the Dust Bowl world of sharecroppers during The Great Depression, I was embarrassed to have never heard of Frank. Working in a more personal, less formalized manner, he captured a dark, brooding side of our country during a time that people today nostalgically look back on as the days when America was great.

I was working full-time as an elementary school teacher when I read about THE AMERICANS, and I promised myself that I would go on my own cross-country trek once I retired. My final day in the classroom was in June of 2015. By August, with the presidential primaries in full-swing, I set out.

Unlike Evans and Agree, who worked for Fortune Magazine, and Frank, who had a Guggenheim Fellowship, I went on my own dime. A director with a significant number of, albeit relatively unknown, narrative and documentary films to my credit, and no funding for a crew, I did not let my limited technical skill with a dslr camera inhibit me. Confident that the power of my film would lie in the people I found, I set off to capture an intimate side of our country by asking my subjects what they thought of the major issues of the day that presidential candidates were addressing during the televised debates. My interviewees, however, didn't rehearse in advance of our encounters; they spoke off the cuff.

My journey brought me into contact with kinds of people I would never have spent time with ordinarily. The diversity of my subjects, I believe, is one of the film's great strengths. Though not polished speakers, the people of IN SEARCH OF AMERICA are often well-spoken and passionate about what they think and believe. To be sure, my portrait does not offer a definitive view of the United States in 2015-2016, and though it begins with footage of the first Republican presidential debate, stops in Iowa during that state's caucuses, includes scenes from the New Hampshire primary and candidates' rallies in my home state of Wisconsin, the film in the end is not about the election of 2016.

Rather, it allows viewers to meet the people I encountered in my own idiosyncratic way. Sometimes I found subjects through conventional means, by calling the Veterans Administration, or the press offices of the Democratic and Republican parties. Other times, I simply walked into a bar, or I walked up to a prospective interviewee on the street. Those chance meetings helped me sketch a portrait of America that viewers have told me makes the documentary memorable.

By the time I finished filming, my 40 interviews represented a much more modest collection than Robert Frank's photo collection. Nevertheless, I hope that those who watch my film today, or ten years hence, will come away feeling that I have provided them with an intimate view of our country seen through the eyes of people willing to share their thoughts with a stranger whose main calling cards were his curiosity and willingness to listen.