Directed by: Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss
USA, 2020, 109m
The sensational winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a week-long annual program in which a thousand Texas high school senior boys gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. Filmmakers Jesse Moss (Speedo, FFF 2003) and Amanda McBaine (producer of The Overnighters) closely track the escalating tensions that arise within a particularly riveting gubernatorial race, training their cameras on unforgettable teenagers like Ben, a Reagan-loving arch-conservative who brims with confidence despite personal setbacks, and Steven, a progressive-minded child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions amidst the sea of red. In the process, they have created an insightful and complex portrait of contemporary American masculinity, as well as a microcosm of our often-dispiriting national political divisions, that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope. This political coming-of-age story is a film for the ages in every sense of the term.