Synopsis by Mark Deming
In 1989, Reed Paget was a 23-year-old photographer and aspiring documentarian who wanted to record the seven wonders of the world on film. He decided to start in China, where he got a job teaching English, just in time to witness the student uprisings that led to the massacre in Tiananmen Square. Paget was able to sneak his film (and himself) out of the country, and next visited Vietnam and Cambodia, hoping to photograph Angor Wat. As one might expect, Paget and his traveling companion were both arrested, but upon his release, Paget discovered he'd developed a taste for danger. He spent much of the next few years scrambling to the world's trouble spots and throwing himself into the face of war or civil disturbance in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, South Africa, Germany, Moscow, Cairo, and Israel, which was as close to the Gulf War as he was able to get before missiles began to fall. American Passport features Paget's footage from his many travels, as well as interviews with friends and family and his narration, which reflects his leftist political views on international politics. American Passport (which has also been advertised under the alternate spelling Amerikan Passport) was named Best Documentary at the 1999 Slamdance Film Festival.