Over 1,000 teenage boys gather every year (fuckin’ YIKES) in Austin, Texas to participate in a mock government program, during which they must elect a governor and build a state government. This intriguing process is documented in Boys State, a new documentary from A24 that’s debuting in theaters (allegedly) on July 31 before its August 14 premiere on Apple TV+. As noted by one participant in this hilarious and somewhat troubling trailer, “I have never seen so many white people, ever.”
Boys State is directed by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, who previously worked together on the fantastic 2014 documentary The Overnighters, directed by Moss. The trailer offers several entertaining moments while also teasing a more poignant exploration of American politics via this eye-opening high school exercise. Here’s the official 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.