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Squirm, laugh, judge – but reality TV school is not quite what you think

‘I want the authentic stuff.’

Welcome to the New York Reality TV School, where hopefuls seek to prepare themselves for life under constant scrutiny and train to ‘beat the reality TV machine’. As the first day of class unfolds, they absorb commandments such as ‘Thou shall say yes as often as possible’ and learn how to inhabit a fictionalised character without becoming an actor. Bit by bit, the class itself begins to resemble the peculiar manipulative tendencies and clash of personalities and agendas that characterise reality TV. If it sounds a bit icky and squirm-inducing, it is. Yet, somehow, a glimmer of genuine striving begins to complicate the picture as confessional moments veer into actual self-reflection. A sharply funny and surprisingly insightful critique of our entertainment-saturated culture, the US director John Wilson’s film manages both to embrace and to subvert the tropes of the genre, investigating with wryness and sympathy the diverse motivations driving these ‘students’ to pursue life on camera.

Director: John Wilson

15 April 2016

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