First Trailer for ‘Boys State’ Earns Our Vote

By Pat Mullen

Catch the first images for this year’s top doc, Boys State. Apple TV+ released the trailer today for the brilliant and hugely entertaining film directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine. These scenes offer the first glimpse at Boys State since the film won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. documentary at Sundance earlier this year. The film recently had its Canadian premiere with a virtual screening for members of Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema.

Boys State is the perfect film for audiences to consider in an election year that is sure to be marked by divisive politics. The film offers an immersive view of Texas’s annual “Boys State” camp in which 1100 young men and aspiring politicians form a mock government from the ground up. The process mirrors the three-ring circus of adult political animals as the young men naturally lapse into polarised politics as a result of the two-party system that governs the camp. What results is a fascinating study of the failings and glories of America’s democratic process, and, ultimately, a hopeful portrait of the USA’s political future.

Back at Sundance, Jason Gorber hailed Boys State as “one of the most eloquent articulations of the machinations of the American political system ever seen.” Read more about Boys State in our interview with Moss and McBaine.

Synopsis: The sensational winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Boys State is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a week-long annual program in which a thousand Texas high school seniors gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine 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 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.

Boys State opens in select theaters on July 31 and debuts globally on Apple TV+ on August 14.