Boys State


At Boys State a thousand Texas high-school students take part in a weeklong exercise to build a representative democracy from the ground up. The American Legion produces the annual event, reviewing submissions from hopeful applicants across the state to assemble a careful selection of citizen participants. Politicians from Cory Booker to Bill Clinton have taken part in this time-honored tradition. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine focus in on a core group of four participants who bring divergent perspectives and life experiences to the prospect of public service. As a series of nominations, debates, and appointments leads to the final showdown—the election of governor, Boys State’s highest office—the film juxtaposes a candidate who aims to represent the voices of his party members against a contestant determined to win the election no matter what the cost. By turns inspiring and alarming, Boys State observes a collection of energetic and impressionable teenagers, dramatically capturing their political motivations and strategic calculations, to consider the shape of our current democracy and the fault lines inherent in a partisan process.  ST  

An Apple and A24 release


Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine


Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss


Jeff Gilbert


Thorsten Thielow

Release Year


Festival Year



United States

Run Time

109 minutes