The movie of the year is here: Boys State

The Big Picture


Sean Fantasy. And this is the big picture conversation show but the best movie I've seen in twenty twenty. That movie is called boy state. What is boy state? Well, it's a documentary. It is now available on Apple TV plus and I thought it would be appropriate for us to just talk about this film which I think is fascinating and incredible document of life in twenty twenty in many ways. Specifically, the way that we engage with our political system Amanda I wanted to talk to you about it because I know that you like the. Film as well. We're GONNA. Talk a bit about what boy state is the institution, and also what this movie isn't how it captures it but what did you make of it off the top see you saw this movie at Sundance as did our colleague Noam Away and you both raved about it and I didn't get to see that sundance so I caught up with it about six months later with all of the expectation that goes along with you guys being this is the best we've ever seen I was wrapped. This is A. Very documentary that is about each. Summer Camp Robert Graham, and we'll explain the program a bit more. It's Kinda complex. I still have some questions about how boy state the Summer Camp Program works but whatever. And I was just completely in Michigan. It's one of those documentaries where you're like I can't believe you got this on tape and also I can't believe that you've got this on tape and also it speaks so profoundly to the moment in which I'm watching it even though it was filmed during the summer of two, thousand and eighteen. Yell leader in this episode, and you can hear a conversation with me and Amanda mcbain and Jesse Moss the filmmakers behind the movie and they explained a bit about how they captured what you're describing, and there are several moments in this movie that will make you say this is must be scripted. This can't be real. I mean in many ways it seems. Like archetypal narrative, dramatic movie making, but it is very real and boy state. The institution is very real. So what is boy state? It's it is as you say, it's a sort of a summer camp. It's a, it's a summer leadership program I assume you as a as a high achieving young person. You must have been a part of some some programs. Like this I get sent to Arts Camp I. Never did the Politics Camp I did have to go to girl scout camp once even though it wasn't a girl Scout, but this is sponsored by the American Legion and I only really interacted with the American Legion. In that. Sometimes, we had our middle school dances at an American Legion clubhouse. Okay. So the American Legion does sponsor this program they nominate High. School Juniors and they come in the interview and they talk about their idea of the country and patriotism and the idea of public service that means to them, and it's essentially a training program for politicos aspiring Politicos, and that's a fascinating thing growing up I went to basketball camp. I was an aspiring. Professional Basketball player unfortunately I am incredibly slow and can't jump and can't shoot. So that's that was never going to happen for me, and for some people at boys anger, there is a girl state as well. We should say that you know in in most states in this country, they offer this program. There are a lot of people who aspire to kind of public service or at least to get a a sort of a sense of civic duty, which is not necessarily the same thing as public service. And this has been happening since nineteen, thirty seven. And the. There is a long list of famous and accomplished alumni in boys and girls stayed more specifically boy stated won't probably won't surprise people to hear. Just a shortlist of incredibly well known people who participated in this program includes Bill Clinton Dick Cheney. Justice Samuel Alito James Gandolfini my boy. Roger Ebert. Michael Jordan. Tom Cotton. Rush Limbaugh Cory Booker. So you know luminaries or lowlights depending on your point of view of the world. This is quite a quite a list of people there and the program itself is kind of interesting. So essentially, I, feel like we're talking around specifically what it does, but the programs vary by state but in Texas where this movie takes place participants are divided into two groups. The federal and the nationalist and what are the what are these two groups have to do and and how does that set up the Phil Do a lot of things but the film follows the political campaign aspect of boy state and boy state is a week long program in Texas and kind of the climactic event is an election for governor of the state, the boys state of Texas. So these two parties, the federalists in the nationalist, which by the way just already casts a quite a shadow over the whole. The. The documentary because they really they adopt these names as teams, and so they're yelling about being federalists and nationalists and anyway. At they elect. Party chairman's they they kind of do a platform that we should talk about the platform they have primaries and they each eventually select one nominee for the governor's race, and then at the end, there is election and one governor emerges. So you know approximately eleven hundred boys participate in this process, and that means that out of large groups. One two three people have to merge and the reason that this movie happened and the reason that Jesse and Amanda sought to identify a handful of people who'd be significant to the process in the given year that they were shooting is because in two thousand, seventeen Texas boys state legislature voted to secede from the Union and that if that doesn't some American politics in the trump era I don't I don't know what does the fact that it was your teenagers decided they needed to succeed from a program which is already imaginary. Is Perfect, we should note that two thousand seventeen was when the state legislature of Texas successfully voted to see from union. It is apparently a emotion that came up for several years but this time both bodies ratified this action, and of course, that is a an ongoing dialogue in the state of Texas. In the true American experience you know there are many Texans who would like to not be a part of this country maybe not many there but there are certainly some we know that that's the session is an ongoing conversation in some states. Around the country. So the point is, is that boy stayed in many ways reflect the political system or does it? It's I think the nature or nurture question here is essential to this movie and what makes it so fascinating and even when I talk to Amanda and Jesse I, think that they were unwilling to put their thumb on the scale to say what were they felt it lived or died but as I said, this movie is just exceptional and

Coming up next