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‘Boys State’ looks at American politics through Texas program

There was plenty of potential risk involved for the leadership of the Texas American Legion Boys State program when filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine pitched a documentary about the program in late 2017.

“The downside to letting in an outsider is that you have to provide a lot of context to explain what’s happening, especially for a fast-paced, condensed, complex program like Boys State that has so many decades of history,” said Daren Brabham, Texas Boys State’s assistant director of media relations. “There was a risk the filmmakers wouldn’t really get it and wouldn’t ultimately tell the story in a clear or fair way.”

But “Boys State,” the documentary McBaine and Moss directed and produced, turned out to be a positive experience.

The film, which won the Grand Jury Prize at January’s Sundance Film Festival, is coming to selected theaters on July 31 and Apple TV+ on Aug. 14. Filmed during the 2018 Texas Boys State session, the documentary follows four “statesmen” — Steven Garza, Robert MacDougal, Ben Feinstein, and Rene Otero — through the week.

McBaine and Moss found Feinstein, Garza and MacDougal through preliminary interviews before the program, and were drawn to Otero after seeing his campaign speech to become […]

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