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Finding Xanadu is a mockumentary chronicling the life of a local filmmaker as seen through the eyes of the small Indiana town he hailed from. Since his death, Sam Truss has become something of a folk hero to his native town of Muncie, IN. When a local janitor unearths the final, lost film of Samuel Truss' career, "Journey to Xanadu," the local arts commission issues a screening, with a documentary crew on hand to capture every moment.

Film critics and local historians recount Truss' life, beginning with his early ties to Muncie. Interviewees include the president of the Sam Truss fan club, Truss' official biographer, head of the local arts commission, Sam Truss' elderly niece, and a cynical local film historian. Growing up on his father's farm outside the city limits, Sam Truss is bitten by the storytelling bug at an early age and gathers local school children for his lavish and opulent productions.

In 1915, Sam Truss catches a train to Hollywood, where by mistake, he winds up directing his first short silent comedy, "Millie Puts on Airs". When the studio folds, Sam Truss goes into business with two New York businessmen (Darius and Kendrick Henslin), turning out over a hundred of these one-reel comedy films, most of them with Darius Henslin in the title role of Mallie the Milliner. To save the company from financial ruin, the Henslin Brothers and Sam Truss make the silent comedy epic A Trip to the City, in which the three main characters, after six hours of falling out of a row boat, never actually reach the city. The film is a box office failure, and the Henlsins close the film company.

Sam Truss turns his attention towards sound pictures, and gets a job with another studio. His first Honor and Glory, a revolutionary war epic that really needs to consult a history book, features Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Mark Twain sitting down to draft the Magna Carta. Sam Truss follows that up with the musical Love That Girl which introduces Sam Truss to his long time love and eventual wife, Roxie Phizer.

No being able to get funding for his next project, a thinly veiled portrait of newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer, Sam Truss heads to Bollywood where he makes a murder mystery that mostly involves the protagonist running through Bombay for two hours. He participates in a little globe hopping, making a monster film in Japan, and finding funding for a movie shot completely in Esperanto, Sam Truss ends up getting kidnapped by North Korea and ordered to make a film glorifying the soviet mentality. When the North Korean leaders actually see one of his films, however, they quickly let him go.

Shortly after a stop over in France to check out the French New Wave and putting his own spin on the spaghetti western, Sam Truss returns to American shores with Numbers, the sequel to the 1960s blockbuster The Ten Commandments. Much of the film's dialog consists of Ancient Israelite census data. During this time, he reunites and marries Roxie Phizer.

Even with a successful film marketed towards two major world religions, Sam Truss still can't get his dream project funded, Journey to Xanadu. With the financial help of the Darius and Kendrick Henslin's heir, Sam Truss moves his filmmaking operations to Muncie, IN to save on overhead and cranks out two potboilers, Cyclone! a film in the vein of 1970s disaster films, and Space Battles which bears a bit too much of a resemblance to another film from the 1970s (including an abundance of technical jargon and an ill-advised, seldom seen Christmas special.) With one film left in his contract with the financers, Sam Truss sets out to Asia to film his lost masterpiece.

From the silent era one reel comedies to Hitchcockian film noir to epic space opera, Samuel W. Truss did it all, but none of it very well. But what about that final film? Could it be Sam Truss' masterpiece after a string of a dozen flops?