American Psychosis

by Amanda Zackem

American Psychosis is a short documentary film inspired by an essay of the same name written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author and activist Chris Hedges. The film is structured around an interview with Hedges discussing consumerism, totalitarian corporate power and living in a world dominated by pervasive illusion. The film has been included in more than 30 film festivals to date, winning awards including Best Short Film at the Berlin Independent Film Festival, Best of Fest at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival and a Humanitarian Award of Distinction at the Best Shorts Awards.

activists TOOLBOX

1. Pick a Date

2. Create an event and invite people to attend.*

3. Set-up viewing device and connect to - No internet? contact us for remote access to our films at

4. Download our curious mind questions below for an enriching after-screening discussion or use them as a starting point to develop your own.

5. Sit-back, relax and enjoy the film.


*Private screenings are great for family/friend gatherings, team building exercises, classroom enrichment, organization and community events.

  1. What is the American Dream?

  2. Does the American Dream Still Exist? Why or Why not?

  3. What do you feel that Americans stand for as a nation? 

  4. How does the presence of these corporations affect your local environment? Local economy? Positive and negative?

  5. Why do we allow large corporations to be the sole or primary job providers in our communities? How can we change this narrative? 

  6. Why should we care about issues that may not directly affect us? 

  7. If a corporation is treated as a human, what should we expect from them emotionally, physically, socially? 

  8. What governmental assumptions and structures should we be challenging? Why? 

  9. Why do we allow spectacle to distract us from important issues? 

  10. What can you do to create change in your life...the lives of others?


chris hedges portrait

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, New York Times best-selling author, professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister.He has written 11 books, including the New York Times best-seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. His other books include “Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt,” (2015) “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and has sold over 400,000 copies.  He writes a weekly column for the website Truthdig in Los Angeles, run by Robert Scheer, and hosts a show, On Contact, on RT America.

2002 for coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002....

Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and studied classics, including ancient Greek and Latin, at Harvard University. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto.

He currently teaches a class through Princeton University at a state prison in New Jersey where half of the students are Princeton undergraduates and half are prisoners.

Hedges began his career reporting on the Falkland War from Argentina for National Public Radio. He went on to cover the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua for five years, first for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio and later The Dallas Morning News. After six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he was based in Paris as part of the team covering al-Qaeda and global terrorism. He left the Times after receiving a formal reprimand from the newspaper for publicly denouncing the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

In 2012, Hedges successfully sued President Barack Obama over section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which overturned the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, prohibiting the military from acting as a domestic police force. Section 1021 gives the military the authority to indefinitely detain and deny due process to U.S. citizens who are branded by the state as terrorists. The decision was overturned on appeal by the Obama administration. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the ruling, known as Hedges v. Obama, in 2014.

Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He spent a year studying classics at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. In 2014 he was ordained as a minister for social witness at the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, N.J. The theologian James Cone, the father of Black Liberation Theology, preached the sermon along with Cornel West. The ordination was approved for his work in New Jersey prisons where Hedges has taught college credit courses for nearly a decade.

Hedges, who was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont and grew up in a small farm town in upstate New York where his father served as a Presbyterian minister, lives in Princeton, N.J. He is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong, with whom he has two children. He has two children from a previous marriage.

More Work by Chris Hedges:


War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

Death of the Liberal Class

Death of the Liberal Class

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt

mpire of Illusion, The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Empire of Illusion, The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

Wages of Rebellion, The Moral Imperative of Revolt

Wages of Rebellion, The Moral Imperative of Revolt

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress

The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress

What Every Person Should Know About War

What Every Person Should Know About War

Losing Moses on the Freeway

Losing Moses on the Freeway

Collateral Damage: American's War Against Iraqi Civilians

Collateral Damage: American's War Against Iraqi Civilians

WI Don't Believe in Atheists

I Don't Believe in Atheists

“The paradox of education is precisely this - that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”

-James Baldwin

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About Us with Logo


We expand visionary writing into short cinematic films, seeking to educate and awaken a more just, compassionate society.


We are a community of filmmakers who weave critical information into compelling, short documentaries. Like canaries in coal mines, visionaries are sounding the alarm through writing, warning of our imbalanced societal structures and the growing influence of corporations on our communities and lives. We are a nonprofit that echoes these calls, helping the written word take flight into captivating films that can be accessed for free, by all.


We believe in the power of film to transform tough topics into understanding and action. In our time-strapped, digital-based culture, short films help us digest complex concepts, allowing us to embrace new ideas and discover we have more in common than we think we do. We seek to incite compassion, elevate consciousness, and empower people to change their habits, lives, communities and ultimately, the world.

What We Do

American Canary will produce all films, house them on an interactive online platform, and share them through film festivals, local screenings and strategic partnership outlets. We seek not only to make and widely distribute films, but to help integrate the big ideas they address through community-grown gatherings, educational resources and opportunities to take action.

Our films will feature writers who wear many hats as activists, anthropologists, psychologists, poets, scientists and those who cannot be put into a box. Through these forward thinkers, we will eloquently approach economics, food and health, environmental and social justice issues.

* American Canary is federally incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.


Lindsay Newman headshot

Lindsay Newman


Lindsay Newman is a nonprofit consultant and development associate with over a decade of international and localized work. She has dedicated her life to empowering stories and capacity building within communities. Her work includes strategic partnerships with organizations working as a change-maker with indigenous youth, animal rights, political advancement and environmental justice. She holds a BA in English Literature and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University. She seeks to utilize the third sector to enhance social change and foster humanity and beauty within the world.

Bridget Haina headshot

Bridget Haina


Bridget Haina is a jill-of-all media trades. From print to web design, still photography to video motion graphics, there is not much she cannot create. Bridget holds a master’s degree in multimedia photography and design from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She is an Assistant Professor of Digital Media Production at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh where she finds great satisfaction in working with the next generation of content creators. She researches and publishes studies on social media communication, and is also the Creative Director for the online retail company Global Sugar Art.

Amanda Zackem headshot

Amanda Zackem


Amanda Zackem is a director, cinematographer and activist. She uses film as a tool to explore consciousness, social justice, and raise awareness against exploitative corporate power structures in an effort to restore balance to our planet and all those that live here. She directed, shot and edited American Psychosis and has produced feature documentaries on issues of civil disobedience and oil and energy. Amanda holds a BA from Ithaca College, a master’s degree from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She was chosen as a 2018 Blue Mountain Center Artist Residency recipient.

Laura Yale headshot

Laura Yale


Laura Yale is a Colorado-based film producer and freelance writer. She produced award-winning documentary Jumbo Wild and award-winning short documentary series A Skier’s Journey. She advocates for the preservation of both inner and outer wildernesses by echoing stories of landscapes and those most closely connected to them. She has a background in environmental policy and political organizing and has a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Laura brings a well-rounded approach, unearthing historical, political, geographical and emotional contexts of characters and their stories.


We seek relationships with individuals, organizations and independent companies that adhere to conscious core values. We look forward to creating mutually-beneficial collaborations that support and fund the making of these films while ensuring they reach their full potential as powerful instruments of positive social change.

We have partnered with Haymarket Books, an independent nonprofit book publisher, part of the “Center for Economic Research and Social Change,” featuring the likes of Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Howard Zinn and Rebecca Solnit. Haymarket will connect us with their authors and promote American Canary produced films.

These films will promote sales for the author and publishing companies and allow us to make and share films that matter. We look forward to partnering with nonprofits, publishers, educators, filmmakers and change-makers who can use film as a tool for their cause.

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