Boys State
Boys-state-movie-poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
  • Amanda McBaine
  • Jesse Moss
CinematographyThorsten Thielow
Edited byJeff Seymann Gilbert
Music byT. Griffin
Production
companies
  • Concordia Studio
  • Mile End Films
Distributed by
Release dates
  • January 24, 2020 (2020-01-24) (Sundance)
  • August 14, 2020 (2020-08-14) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Boys State is a 2020 American documentary film directed and produced by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine. It follows a thousand teenage boys attending Boys State in Texas, coming to build a representative government from the ground up.

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020, where it won the U.S. Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize. It was released on Apple TV+ on August 14, 2020, by A24 and Apple.

Cast

The film focuses on four participants in the program:[2]

Other participants, such as Eddy Proietti Conti, who runs for Federalist Party Governor, also make appearances.[5]

Synopsis

The film follows a thousand teenage boys attending Boys State in Austin, Texas, coming together to build a representative government from the ground up, from all different political backgrounds, navigating challenges of organizing political parties, consensus, and campaigning for the highest office at Boys State, Governor of Texas.[6]

The boys arrive for the program, where they are randomly divided into two parties, the Nationalists and Federalists. Those wishing to run for governor seek to collect 30 signatures to get on the primary ballot. MacDougall does so easily; Garza manages to reach the threshold just before the deadline. Otero delivers a powerful speech and is elected state chairman for the Nationalists; he is subject to an impeachment motion that easily fails. Feinstein is elected state chairman for the Federalists. In primary campaigning, Garza delivers a sincere speech, but questions arise among conservative voters about his past participation in March for Our Lives, as well as his views on abortion and immigration policies. MacDougall positions himself as a conservative, hiding his true beliefs, but he comes across as less passionate and loses the race to Garza.

Meanwhile, the Federalists have elected Conti as their gubernatorial candidate. In the general election, the Federalists launch a humorous Instagram attack page. However, the party dissociates itself from it after it makes a racist attack on Otero. Garza appears on the verge of victory, prompting Feinstein to engineer a scandal. He tells Conti to try to conduct a Q&A during a forum moderated by Otero, a minor rule violation. When Otero disallows it, he latches onto that fact and accuses Otero of bias in later forums. As the program concludes, the boys cast their votes, and Conti is elected governor.

Release

Boys State directors and producers Jesse Moss (left) and Amanda McBaine (right) interviewed by ReasonTV about the film
Boys State directors and producers Jesse Moss (left) and Amanda McBaine (right) interviewed by ReasonTV about the film

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020.[7] Shortly after, A24 and Apple acquired distribution rights to the film for $12 million.[8][9] The film was set to screen at South by Southwest on March 13, 2020, but the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[10][11] It was released on Apple TV+ on August 14, 2020, after its UK release at Sundance London 2020 Online on August 9.[12]

Reception

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 94% based on 144 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Startling, upsetting, and overall absorbing, Boys State strikingly depicts American political divisions -- and machinations -- taking root in the next generation."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 84 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[14]

Accolades

At the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the film won the U.S. Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize.[15] At South by Southwest, the film won the Louis Black Lone Star Award Special Jury Recognition for Documentary.[16]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2020 Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Most Compelling Living Subject of a Documentary Steven Garza Won [17]
Best Political Documentary Boys State Won
Greater Western New York Film Critics Association Awards Best Documentary Film Boys State Nominated [18]
Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Documentary Feature Boys State Nominated [19]
Texas Independent Film Award Boys State Nominated
Indiana Film Journalists Association Best Documentary Boys State Nominated [20]
Miami Film Festival Best Documentary Boys State Nominated [21]
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Documentary Boys State Nominated [22]
Sundance Film Festival US Grand Jury Prize – Documentary Boys State Won [15]
South by Southwest Film Festival Special Jury Recognition – Documentary Boys State Won [23]
2021 Austin Film Critics Association Awards Best Documentary Boys State Won [24]
Chicago Indie Critics Awards Best Documentary Boys State Won [25]
Cinema Eye Honors Audience Choice Boys State Won [26]
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss Nominated [27]
Outstanding Achievement in Editing Jeff Seymann Gilbert Nominated
The Unforgettables Steven Garza Won
The Unforgettables Rene Otero Won
Columbus Film Critics Association Best Documentary Boys State Runner-up [28]
Denver Film Critics Society Best Documentary Film Boys State Won [29]
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss Nominated [30]
Hollywood Critics Association Best Documentary Boys State Nominated [31]
International Documentary Awards Best Editing Jeff Seymann Gilbert Nominated [32]
Best Cinematography Thorsten Thielow Nominated
National Board of Review Top Five Documentaries Boys State Won [33]
North Carolina Film Critics Association Best Documentary Boys State Nominated [34]
North Dakota Film Society Best Documentary Feature Boys State Nominated [35]
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards Best Documentary Boys State Won [36]
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special Davis Guggenheim, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jonathan Silberberg, Nicole Stott,
Shannon Dill, Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss
Won [37]
Outstanding Directing for a Documentary/Nonfiction Program Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss Nominated
San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle Best Documentary Boys State Runner-up [38]

References

  1. ^ "Boys State". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  2. ^ Fisher, Rachel (September 25, 2020). "A Discussion With the Cast and Crew of A24's BOYS STATE". WIUX. Archived from the original on September 27, 2020. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  3. ^ Mehrotra, Kriti (August 14, 2020). "Where Is Ben Feinstein From Boys State Now?". The Cinemaholic. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Mehrotra, Kriti (August 14, 2020). "Where Are Steven Garza, Rene Otero and Robert MacDougall From Boys State Now?". The Cinemaholic. Archived from the original on September 21, 2020. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  5. ^ Henderson, Odie (August 14, 2020). "Boys State". RogerEbert.com. Archived from the original on September 16, 2020. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  6. ^ Nero, Dom. "Boys State, the Subject of an Outstanding New Documentary, Was One of the Strangest Weeks of My Life". Esquire. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  7. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (December 4, 2019). "Sundance Unveils Female-Powered Lineup Featuring Taylor Swift, Gloria Steinem, Abortion Road Trip Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  8. ^ Lang, Brent (January 27, 2020). "Apple and A24 Partner to Buy Documentary 'Boys State' Out of Sundance". Variety. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  9. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 27, 2020). "Apple & A24 Snap Up 'Boys State' Documentary – Sundance". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  10. ^ "Boys State". South by Southwest. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  11. ^ "City of Austin Cancels SXSW March Events". South by Southwest. March 6, 2020. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  12. ^ "Boys State". Apple TV+. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  13. ^ "Boys State (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  14. ^ "Boys State Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (February 1, 2020). "Sundance Awards: 'Minari' Wins Grand Jury Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  16. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (March 24, 2020). "SXSW Film Festival Unveils Award Winners For Canceled 2020 Edition". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 4, 2020.
  17. ^ Moreau, Jordan (November 16, 2020). "'Dick Johnson Is Dead' Wins Best Feature at Critics Choice Documentary Awards". Variety. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  18. ^ "AWARDS: Our 2020 Winners". Greater WNY Film Critics Association. December 31, 2020. Archived from the original on December 21, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  19. ^ "The 2020 Houston Film Critics Society (HFCS) Nominations". Next Best Picture. January 12, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. ^ Anderson, Erik (December 15, 2020). "Indiana Film Journalists Association (IFJA) nominations: 'I'm Thinking of Ending Things' leads with 11". AwardsWatch. Archived from the original on December 15, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  21. ^ ""THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY" to Open, "MUCHO MUCHO AMOR" to Close 37th Miami Film Festival". Miami Dade College News. Retrieved February 3, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ "The 2020 Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) Nominations". Next Best Picture. January 19, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ McNary, Dave (March 24, 2020). "SXSW Film Festival Unveils 2020 Winners After Cancellation". Variety. Archived from the original on March 24, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  24. ^ Partridge, Jon (March 19, 2021). "2020 Austin Film Critics Association Award Winners". Austin Film Critics Association. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  25. ^ "SPECIAL: Winners of the fifth annual Chicago Indie Critics Awards". Every Movie Has a Lesson. January 2, 2021. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  26. ^ Thompson, Anne (March 10, 2021). "Cinema Eye Honors Go to Non-Fiction Oscar Contenders 'Collective' and 'Boys State'". IndieWire. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  27. ^ "Cinema Eye Unveils Full Slate of Nominees for 14th Annual Nonfiction Honors". Cinema Eye Honors. December 10, 2020. Archived from the original on December 10, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  28. ^ Keefe, Brad (January 8, 2021). "'And the winner is...': The 2021 Columbus Film Critics Association Awards". Columbus Alive. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  29. ^ "The 2020 Denver Film Critics Society (DFCS) Winners". Next Best Picture. January 18, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ Vary, Adam B. (April 10, 2021). "Chloé Zhao Wins Top DGA Award for 'Nomadland'". Variety. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  31. ^ Lee, Michael (February 2, 2021). "Hollywood Critics Association 2021 Award Nominations". That's It LA. Archived from the original on February 2, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  32. ^ Pedersen, Erik (November 24, 2020). "IDA Documentary Awards Reveals Nominations For Its First Virtual Ceremony; Four Pics Vie For Both Best Feature & Director". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  33. ^ Davis, Clayton (January 26, 2021). "National Board of Review Names 'Da 5 Bloods' Best Picture, Spike Lee Becomes Second Black Director Winner". Variety. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  34. ^ Davis, Clayton (January 4, 2021). "'Minari' Wins Big With North Carolina Film Critics Association, Chloé Zhao's Directing Winning Streak Continues". Variety. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  35. ^ "The 2020 North Dakota Film Society (NDFS) Nominations". Next Best Picture. January 8, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  36. ^ "The 2020 Oklahoma Film Critics Circle (OFCC) Winners". Next Best Picture. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  37. ^ "Boys State". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  38. ^ Harrington, Jim (January 18, 2021). "Bay Area film critics honor 'Nomadland,' Chadwick Boseman". The Mercury News. Archived from the original on January 18, 2021. Retrieved February 3, 2021.