Boys State
Film Special Event

Boys State

October 18, 2020

This event occurred as part of the 20/21 Hop Film season. This is an archived view.

A free, exclusive screening of the Sundance hit about an annual experiment in democracy where 1000 Texas teenage boys build a mock government.

20/21 Hop Film

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The American Legion hosts an annual summer program in various states attended by a thousand high school boys entering their senior year (yes, there's a girls version, too). The boys are arbitrarily divided into two parties ("Federalist" and "Nationalist") and engage in weeklong mock elections. The 2017 Texas Boys State convention earned headlines when it voted to secede from the United States. Drawn by this controversy, filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine joined the 2018 event.

High-minded ideals collide with low-down dirty tricks as four boys of diverse backgrounds campaign for the highest office at Texas Boys State—governor. Leading the two parties are 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.

Documenting impeachment threats, tense debates, underdog victories and even nefarious internet memes, Moss and McBaine chart the dramatic twists and turns of these intersecting stories to remind us that democracy is not a spectator sport. In the process, they have created a 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. D: Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, US, 2020, 1h49m

Co-sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, Dartmouth Film SocietyDartmouth Minority Pre-Law Association, Phi Alpha Theta (National History Honor Society) and White River Indie Films.

A special one-time, free screening from Apple Original Films and A24 Release. Check out the movie's official site for the accompanying discussion guide, testimonials, tweets and ways to get involved.

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“Everything that is wrong with the current state of our democracy and the best hope for its future are acted out in microcosm in Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss’s complex, suspenseful and exhilarating Boys State.”

The Boston Globe

Boys State captures the political division through the lens of future leaders.”

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