ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- A new documentary is being hailed the film of the year

“Boys State” looks at a summer program where thousands of high school students gather each year for a civic experiment, learning to build a government from the ground up.

"Boys State" has been run by the American Legion in various locations around the country since 1935. It has some pretty famous alumni including Bill Clinton, Cory Booker, Dick Cheney, as well as non-politicians like Michael Jordan and Bruce Springsteen.

The goal of the program is to encourage compromise, but what ends up playing out a lot more complex. Politics has never been a clean game, and seeing the complex ideas of democracy through a group of diverse teenage boys is sobering. Every year more than 1,000 teenage boys from across the country band together developing a mock government and picking candidates to run against each other.

"It's the real deal. Nothing you can hear or say, train, memorize can prepare you for actually doing it," says the group of young men. Although there is also a "Girls State", the documentary focuses on "Boys State" in Texas.

"I still want to do politics, but not elected, maybe form a third party position as an educator or activist, non-profit work," says one participant.

The experiment splits the teens into two political parties: The Federalists and the Nationalists. The documentary shows just how complex views from a divers group of individuals gets translated in politics.

"Everybody inherently thinks what they're doing is right."

After watching the documentary you may feel concerned, or you may walk away hopeful for the future as you see passionate, smart youth rise to the occasion. 

"We all want what's the best for our state, our nation and through conversations and through compromise, if people wouldn't get so angry about it, I think we could all come to some similar conclusions," says one teen.

"Boys State" premeired at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Filmmakers won the U.S. documentary competition grand prize. It is now streaming on all platforms.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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