Looking at American politics, one would never think that a documentary about young people preparing to become politicians would be of interest.
In the United States, there is no class debate, no parties fighting for workers (let's not enter the debate if what we have in Europe does, please). There is no left and no right, only more to the right and less to the right.
There is also no diversity of parties, only two, so anyone who wants to pursue a career in politics must be willing to move through the organization charts of one of the greats.
So when I sat down to watch Boy's State, I wasn't expecting much either.
One thing I want to add is that the United States of America never ceases to amaze me. I find it incredible that a contest / debate is organized in one state to reproduce what an election campaign would look like (on a small scale, of course) and that everyone finds what they do best or where they can fit in to be part of the machinery.
Let me give you a synopsis of the plot of this documentary.
Boys state is a documentary shot in 2020, directed and produced by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine. It shows a thousand teenagers (boys) who come to Boys / Girls State in Texas ( in Texas!), To build a representative government from scratch.
That is, you have to convince other teenagers to support you, campaign, present your program to vote for them… and only one will win the election.
But it is not something anecdotal or prepared for the making of the documentary.
The organizers of the debates are the American Legion Boys State and American Legion Auxiliary Girls State who run these summer leadership programs for high school students, which focus on exploring the mechanics of government and politics. The programs are sponsored by the American Legion (AL) and the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA). Boys and girls are nominated in high school by their peers in their freshman year. Boys and Girls State programs began in 1937 and run throughout the United States (except Hawaii where only Girls State is held), usually at a school within that state.
Isn't that great for you? I already know it is paradoxical that whatever their ideas are eventually - when they are adults and get into the car - they will all end up repeating the same things as their elders, defending the same ideas and perpetuating a system that can be greatly improved.
But imagine this was done in your country. That from adolescence those with a political vocation can begin to prepare themselves to be "real" politicians.
Furthermore, the documentary is narrated with increasing dramatic intensity, as the result approaches, showing the participants' lives and conversations, mistakes, successes, disappointments ...
I started seeing it without much hope, but the truth is that it captured and amazed me, absorbing me in its dynamics. When it finished, I realized I had seen a work of art.
And I would like more.
Sundance Film Festival: Grand Jury Prize - 2020
Best Documentary. National Board of Review (NBR) 2020