• “The Pool”

Before the ubiquity of reality TV, Chris Smith and Sarah Price set the standard for tragicomic portraits of quixotic dreamers with American Movie, their 1999 documentary about would-be horror auteur and fellow Wisconsinite Mark Borchardt.

The film’s cult status launched Borchardt’s acting career. But even after winning a 2007 Sundance Special Jury Prize, Smith struggled to find distribution for The Pool, his wry and touching fiction debut about a poor Indian teen who takes a pool cleaning job to spy on the rich girl he pines for, and maintains a veneer of optimism for his younger friend despite their abject circumstances.

The Pool screens Tuesday 11/3 in the Midwest Independent FIlm Festival.