Arthouse Garage Podcast

Podcast Transcript for Episode 49: Boys State

Read the Podcast Transcript for Episode 49: Boys State

Read the transcript below:

Andrew Sweatman 0:08
Hello, hello and welcome back to art house garage, the snob free film Podcast, where we make art house indie classic and foreign cinema accessible to the masses. I’m your host Andrew swepson. And today season six of the podcast continues with another standout documentary called boy state boy state from directors, Amanda McBain and Jessie moss is streaming now on Apple TV plus, this film depicts a unique week long event that happens each year in the state of Texas. The event is called boy state, and it’s a summer camp style gathering for 17 year old boys from around the state. During the summer between their junior and senior years of high school, they come together at a college campus. And they staged a mock government, complete with elections, campaigns, impeachments voting, schmoozing your peers going negative in the press. Basically anything that happens in real politics happens at Boys State. And this makes for an incredibly interesting film that offers insights to our political process, and also manages to show the good, the bad and the ugly of human nature. I’m really excited for you to hear this episode of the podcast for two reasons. One is my guest. He’s a journalist and a documentary filmmaker named Obed Lamy. And he directed a wonderful short film called a promising voice that played at filmland 2020. I got on the phone with him a few weeks back to record this episode about Boys State. And I was just so happy with how it turned out. He’s also someone who’s very interested in US politics. And he offers a unique perspective because he’s only lived in the US for a few years. Obed is Haitian. And on our call, he talks about growing up in Haiti, and his relationship with the US and his feelings about our government, and how that has changed over time. It’s really fascinating to hear. The second interesting thing about this episode has to do with me. I was excited to watch and discuss boy state because I myself attended Boys State and when I was 17 years old. So this film depicts Texas, Boys State in 2018. I attended Arkansas, Boys State, way back in 2007. But I definitely felt a lot of familiarity watching the film. And it was great to kind of bring up some old memories. It’s one of those things where if somebody mentions voice state, I’m like, Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. I forgot I did that all those years ago. So then this film comes out. It’s all about it. And suddenly it’s it’s right in my face again. And I’m kind of reliving the experience and realizing it probably was more formative than I knew at the time. So anyway, I also share about my experience of going to Boys State in this episode. And with that, let’s say hello to our guests. Welcome to the podcast. Obed, how are you?

Obed Lamy 2:52
Hey, hello, Andrew. I’m doing very well in Thank you for having me.

Andrew Sweatman 2:56
I’m so excited to have you on. So you and I met through Instagram really, but through film land, the Arkansas cinema society. festival that happened back in October. And then we got to actually meet in person out there at the drive in six feet apart. So I’m excited to have you on the show. At that point, I was seeing your film, a promising voice, which is this great documentary? How? What’s the latest on that? Are you still doing festivals or what’s going on with it?

Obed Lamy 3:27
Um, there is a quiet moment now with this film, I guess it can play into some social groups, like, nonprofit organization who are maybe interested in this story. But so far, it’s been a very good experience with all the festivals it’s been playing in. I guess that was six a? Yes. I’m very happy with that in a lot of friends and people in my country. Were excited about the press coverage I’ve had.

Andrew Sweatman 4:04
So it’s been a good experience. That’s really great. Yeah, it’s I watched all the shorts and I was really stuck out to me as you know, it’s in separate courses, the documentary so it’s about a real subject and you really seem to have a good handle on you know, when to let the camera run and show something. I think that’s what I said in my review. I did a review on HGTV if anyone wants to go watch that. Yeah, but I was really impressed by you.

Obed Lamy 4:31
Yes, I remember your review and others very excited and honored about that. Because you know, when you I didn’t know you before, so when you make something and film and you know, people spend time to watch it and then being online and sharing some comments about it. You know, how I don’t know how I can feel about that, you know, I’m so grateful that you’ve been short time and not only to watch it, but also to share your thoughts about it. And I mean, thank you for that.

Andrew Sweatman 5:08
Of course. Yeah, I love

Obed Lamy 5:12
the first public critiques I had about all my

Andrew Sweatman 5:14
first. That’s so cool. Yeah, I just love watching movies. And something about like, this is a new movie that not many people have seen yet. And if I can be somebody that’s out there saying, here’s what’s good about this, you should watch it, you know that I get excited about that. And so that’s I’m glad that it’s helpful, you know, especially for like student films, I want to like, just be able to champion whenever I can. And then it’s even better when I thank you for that you and stuff later. So I’m glad. I’m glad it worked out.

Obed Lamy 5:41
I remember you had some specific comments about a few stains and all specific artists did the same. I was like, oh, man, this guy really spent time.

Andrew Sweatman 5:55
Glad that was good. Yeah. Well, thank you for making the film. I think it’s really good. And it’s so intriguing to hear. So I guess we can kind of transition on into the episode cuz I want to talk a little bit more about you. But yeah, so let’s, let’s pause here and let’s let’s talk about boy state.

Unknown Speaker 6:22
I will skip the part where I brag for three minutes about how great and cool I am seeing as we are all qualified young men have skill and character. People like that stuff. People like that stuff a lot.

Unknown Speaker 6:38
Some people say they’re a sports junkie, I say I’m a politics junkie.

Unknown Speaker 6:44
I’m playing this like a game. I would like very much to win love. It was I love it.

Unknown Speaker 6:48
Where are you from?

Andrew Sweatman 6:48
I come from a very modest family. I want to be the first one to graduate from high school. I’m a progressive person. And I’m in a room full

Unknown Speaker 6:56
of mostly conservative people.

Unknown Speaker 6:58
Our masculinity shall not be infringed. I

Unknown Speaker 7:03
have never seen so many white people ever. I feel like everybody has a secret underlying need for bipartisanship.

Unknown Speaker 7:14
A message of unity as good as it sounds is not winning anyone,

Unknown Speaker 7:17
any elections.

Obed Lamy 7:21
Primary polls are now open,

Unknown Speaker 7:24
get yourselves ready for a turbulent election.

Unknown Speaker 7:29
Whatever happens here is best of luck, you will support you fully.

Obed Lamy 7:33
My name is Steven Garza.

Unknown Speaker 7:36
And I’m running for governor.

Unknown Speaker 7:41
Because that’s the political views voice of my speech. Sometimes you got to say what you got to say in an attempt to win. I think he’s a fantastic politician. But I don’t think a fantastic politician is a compliment. If

Unknown Speaker 7:57
we’re gonna do shock and awe. It’s gonna be awesome. I want you all to take out your phones and go on Instagram. Everyone’s like,

Unknown Speaker 8:03
oh my god.

Obed Lamy 8:13
We so the world of Patriots are made of that when things get tough. We pull ourselves by our bootstraps, one nation under God,

Unknown Speaker 8:22
the Constitution of the United States of America.

Unknown Speaker 8:27
That’s politics. I think that’s politics.

Andrew Sweatman 8:33
All right, let’s talk about boy state. So this is a documentary streaming now on Apple TV. And it’s pretty fascinating. It’s about it’s like a camp. But basically, it’s an event a week long event. That happens, in this case in Texas. And it is. It’s like the political system, but made into a camp experience. So it’s a bunch of 17 year old boys, and they’re between junior and senior year of high school. And they all come together on a college campus. And they run for office, they run campaigns, they vote, there’s primaries and everything. They do the whole kind of running for governor Senate, lots of different positions. And this documentary follows a few of the people. Some of the ones running for the higher offices that are attending this event. And it is pretty crazy. It’s it’s just really amazing. It really is kind of a microcosm of kind of the democratic process as we know it in America. And it, it’s pretty fast. So it gets It’s wild. As you might expect that like a voice camp situation, it gets pretty crazy. But before we talk about all of that, I did have a question just for you. Oh, bad because you are from Haiti. And so it was good to see like, how long have you been interested in American politics? I know you’re a journalist and you have kind of a journalistic style in your own filmmaking. But did you grow up kind of aware of American politics when You were living in Haiti? Or is that something that’s been new for you in the last few years.

Obed Lamy 10:04
Um, it’s both. I mean, when you grew up in my country, Haiti, you are exposed to everything about us. Part of the reason is because we have a large Haitian diaspora in the United States. So there’s a lot of transactions in terms of they send money, they send food, they send clothes back home, they also travel all the year for the summer for Christmas vacation. So you know about the US, and you know, when things are going well or bad in the US, because when you speak to those, you know, people, when you talk to those people on the phone, they will give you some, you know, feedback as to how they are doing or how the country is doing. And also the immigration part of it, when you have, you know, many times the US have the poorest people in my country. So we know those things. And I will all I would also say that, since the country, my country has been occupied trice by the US in recently, quite frankly. So when you go to school, you learn in our history book about the US occupation of Haiti. But personally, I was stuck, I started to be interested in US politics itself, I guess that was in 2015 and 2016. During the campaign in the end of the Obama terms. At that time, I remember I was a journalist working for an online news organization in my country. We were trying to keep up with the campaign, because there were some issues that was related to things going on in my country. But from a personal level, I think I was, I have to say that I have been interested in learning English because of the US politics. Because when I was in high school, my when you when you are in high school in my country, you have to take both English and Spanish classes, I was more interested in Spanish, maybe because of the accent of the grammar was the approach to French, I was never interested in English. So in 2015, and 16, you had Michelle Obama and Barack Obama going everywhere to give their final speeches and a lot of emotions. I was really when I was saying those things on social media, I was interested in understanding what they are saying. And I remember every night when I go back home from work, I go on YouTube, and watch and watch those species and with subtitles, of course, and then it again, my connection in US politics is really close to or is combined with my experience of writing English, because again, when I came here in Marshall, nothing to do my English program that was from March to August, before I started my master. I remember I was watching TV that day. That was a Sunday when Pete Budaj edge was having his first town hall. So I follow all these 2019 and 2020 and 2021 election cycle. So yeah, yes, I’m really interested in the US. And I even took outside of my journalism program. I even took last semester, a class in the political science department. This is a class called race and ethnicity in politics. So yes, yeah.

Andrew Sweatman 13:57
Yeah. So politics is kind of part of your story. That’s really interesting. Yeah, it’s really eye opening to hear this kind of stuff from you. Just because I think, you know, like most Americans, I don’t know that much about Haiti. Sadly, you know, we should teach geography and culture better schools. I have like, I feel like I have a million questions for you. But we should probably talk about the movie, but yeah. Well, here’s one other kind of side question. So this this movie voice date is about? Yeah, this this event voice date. Had you ever heard of that before? I mean, I guess the answer is probably no. Most people probably never heard of boy state. But had you were you aware of it at all? And if if so, or if not? What do you think about it?

Obed Lamy 14:39
No, I’ve never heard about boy states before that film came out. Since I am really interested in documentary and I subscribe to a lot of platforms about the country like duck NYC or Ida or South End. They used to promote some films they are partner with I don’t know. So I saw information, or I have seen many information about both states. And I think I was interested to watch it. But what I had in mind was like, of course, a bunch of boys because I watched the trailer. Yeah, I’m doing something about politics, or maybe because of this 2020 election. Yeah. But I had no clue that was something well organized. That was a platform that existed for so long in the country, and many people have been, but into it. So yes, I had no clue about by by state. So. But I guess when I watched it, I don’t I’m not talking about the film right now. But just exciting. I want to say yeah, is I feel like it’s like scout camp.

Andrew Sweatman 15:51

Obed Lamy 15:52
Now, I’m like that. Yeah. And it’s mainly about politics or the democratic process. So yes,

Andrew Sweatman 15:59
yeah. That’s kind of my feeling about it, too. So I yeah, I’m not surprised you hadn’t heard of the voice state event? I think, right. Yeah, most people have not. But it was interesting to me when I heard the title of it. I was like, is that about voice state like the camp because I didn’t know about it. Because I actually attended. I went to Boys State, in Arkansas. So this the film is about Texas boy state, but Arkansas does it as well. I’m not sure how many other states have a boy state. And there’s a girl state. Also, they mentioned that in the film, but it’s between your 11th and 12th grade during the summer. So I was for me, that was summer of 2017. And I’ll share a little bit about my experience before we get into the movie, just because I think it’s kind of interesting. So yeah, here, we get the personal side for you. And for me, that’s episode. But I didn’t really like boy state that much. And I don’t even know I don’t tend to remember how I even got involved in it. But I think it was your teachers would nominate you. And I want to say like two or three boys from each high school got nominated or something like that. And I was pretty good friends with my civics teacher. I was kind of a nerd in high schools. I was friends with my teachers, and had good grades and stuff. So they, they nominated me and I went, my brother had gone a few years before my big brother. So I kind of knew a little bit about what it was. But yeah, it’s it’s pretty crazy. So I, I was not the type to run for office. There I was, I basically stayed and just had sort of a camp experience. Of course, you’re like, you’re getting up in the morning for calisthenics or making you do jumping jacks at 6am. And then you’re eating like cat food. It’s on a college campus. But then there was just lots of events and listening to speeches and that kind of stuff. was mostly my experience with it.

Obed Lamy 17:54
Is there anything you’ve seen in that movie? In the documentary that is different from your experience? All? That is exactly what you experienced through your time in Boys State?

Andrew Sweatman 18:06
That’s a great question. And it’s actually pretty different in some big ways. I mean, for one thing, it was 2007. We didn’t really have smartphones yet. And we also were not allowed to use our phones during the day. So we didn’t have these Instagram campaigns and that kind of stuff going on. Like none of that was. And also at one point in the movie, like they have a podcast that they’re doing. And we didn’t have a podcast. I don’t know if it’s just because like the Texas one is more legit and has more money or something. But it was it was pretty different in that way.

Obed Lamy 18:37
Um, station.

Andrew Sweatman 18:39
They are. Oh, yeah. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, we didn’t have any of that. We went to speeches and ran for office. Yeah,

Obed Lamy 18:45
I guess the podcast, a lot of boys did things that would have been really interesting. interesting for you. Yeah. if you will.

Andrew Sweatman 18:53
Yeah. So if we had a podcast when I was doing it, maybe I would have had a better time. But we I was not. There are people that were running for the bigger offices. I don’t think it was as crazy as it gets in this movie. But I don’t think it’s possible. But that just wasn’t the people I was spending time with my good friend. The other I think at least there’s just maybe one other person for my high school. He did run for something. He ran for Land Commissioner. And then he appointed me as a deputy Land Commissioner. So I did have an office at the end was just appointed, because

Obed Lamy 19:29
what he says that you’ve learned about the US politics that is still I don’t know, useful for you. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew Sweatman 19:40
I mean, there’s a lesson right there is like it’s all about who you know, because I didn’t really even want an office and then I ended up with one just because I knew somebody that was b&o. I mean, he learned all about the political process. And yeah, I think there were some of the it’s, it’s like I learned about the classroom side of stuff. And I in high school in the civics class, but then here you kind of learn the social side of politics a little bit, I guess it’s kind of what it’s getting at which, you know, I pay attention to politics, but I don’t I’m not that much of a political person. And so I didn’t really enjoy Boys State very much. And actually, most of the people I went with said they didn’t really have that good of a tie. So anyway, we’re forever. That’s where, but yes, so I was an interesting kind of commonality, saying, Oh, that’s a documentary about boys date. I’ve done that before. So anyway, yeah, I guess let’s, let’s talk about the movie. So this documentary showcases kind of some unusual things about American democracy. So I wanted to see for you, is there anything in the movie that stood out as just like really surprising or strange, whether that’s about the movie itself, or just American politics as a whole?

Obed Lamy 20:51
Yes, I mean, this is, as I said, before, this is a story. totally new for me, the voice the event, and also the way a front roll, I think this is a very great documentary, because being able to spend, I guess this is a week event.

Andrew Sweatman 21:12
I think so yeah. That’s what it was for me.

Obed Lamy 21:15
Yeah. And to pick some very, very compelling characters that something really really interesting this documentary filmmakers have done a I don’t know, if they had learned something before, as far as knowing, okay, these guys gonna run for office, they talk with, you know, the specific actor, before na knowing that, okay, we have to follow this specific actor, or if maybe after maybe two days, they kind of have a sense of what’s going on. And okay, we’re gonna follow add two or five characters. So this is a very, these are really good looking into and specific characters, you really have a sense of how the story is unfolding and having a broader sense of what voice does is. So three well done. Now. What is really strange or surprising to me is how those very young boys can be so knowledgeable about us put it in a training session before that we even I mean, it’s really surprising to know how they know about the issues, how they speak very, very well. A, you know, showed leadership, you have these black men, I guess his name is Renae, he was the chair of the finance. Boy, I don’t remember. I mean, he was really, really good. He’s a good public speaker. He’s a great leader. He, although he has faced, you know, some backlash from guys, but he was doing his job very well. So yes, I mean, those guys, they are big leaders, they know very well about, you know, the issues and US politics. Although Personally, I have some, you know, my own beliefs or my own I the way, I suppose. Maybe there’s not originally the same way as some of them. But I guess this is a place where people can learn about the US politics.

Andrew Sweatman 23:24

Obed Lamy 23:25
Yeah. What is this thing in real life in Washington, for example? Yeah.

Andrew Sweatman 23:31
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s, that’s a really good observation that it is, you know, we grow up as American boys grow up in this society, seeing these kind of things in politics. And I mean, you mentioned you kind of started getting into politics around 2015 or 2016. And that was a very interesting time for politics. Because Yeah, Obama was on the way out, and Trump was on the way in, and you definitely feel that in this movie, I think you can tell that kind of that’s, that’s where things are. Yeah. I like that you brought up Renee because he is he’s such an interesting person in this and he comes in with already having experience with like writing writing legislation. You and then he also he feel a difference there between him and then there’s some of these other guys who you can tell like they are. They’re good public speakers, like you mentioned. And maybe that’s kind of the extent of it, like they they are good at getting on the microphone. And you know, giving a speech, but they may not have much experience or they may be no, it’s a two different it’s a kind of a contrast between Rene and some of the other people for that reason, I think. But yeah, it’s, it’s what I thought was interesting about this is that it opens up with this quote from George Washington, about the two party system. And something about you know, George Washington kind of famously did not like the two party system thought it was a bad idea. He said it would open up for someone to I can’t read the exact word but basically someone uninformed to kind of usurp and get the power. And the filmmaker seem to be pointing pretty directly at our now former President Trump with that kind of thing. That’s that was my, my feeling about it. And then that kind of plays out over the movies, you kind of see some similar kind of things happening. So that I thought that was interesting that the filmmakers kind of took that track with it opening with that quote, and then kind of following the story in that way.

Obed Lamy 25:31
But you, you know, one thing, because I had a conversation with different mine, he’s also from Arkansas. He was also a boys did when he was younger. I, one of the thing we were talking he’s how, how anxious those guys young boys are when they feel in these events. Yeah, I mean, I think those comments in expressing search? I don’t know. Like, really? I don’t want to say radical obedience, but I don’t know if maybe in the future, some of them maybe to watch this thing, but I was, I don’t know.

Andrew Sweatman 26:19
Yeah. Well, they regret any of this.

Obed Lamy 26:22
That, you know, the access, because you know, to do a document able to have access. And these guys, they are young, they are under there under 18, I guess.

Andrew Sweatman 26:33
Yeah. I think the mostly 17. Yeah.

Obed Lamy 26:35
So I don’t know if they had permission from the parents, or the people going into boasted events to be in to be part of the school.

Andrew Sweatman 26:45
Yeah. Yeah, that’s really interesting. They do they get really candid and open. There’s some shots where they’re just like on the couch talking about what was going on. And they say some pretty radical things. There’s just surprising things. In some of those, I almost don’t want to spoil what they say. But we can maybe hint at it. But kind of getting along those lines. One thing that I also found surprising was, you know, I know Texas is a conservative place. But I was surprised by just how conservative it seemed like most of the people were. And there are some exceptions to that. But it really seemed overwhelmingly red, I guess. And then another thing, just this the partisan this partisan nature of it, because I mean, I think when I was 17, back in 2007, it was a less divided time in our country. And it was it probably just different feeling for that reason. But they even today, they assign these, everyone into two political parties, Federalists and nationalists, as a way to, I guess, try to get around, you know, just partisan divides. But that’s the way but still goes anyway. It’s amazing how partisan it still is. But yeah, go ahead.

Obed Lamy 27:52
Well, I guess I’m fidelities internationalist things are just different names. But they you see the immediate reflect the political ideologies in the US as far as we can in Democrats, because you can see, I don’t know, when someone leaned more into democrat or leaned more into republican I mean, based on the issues they stand for, or the way they see each order. So I don’t think that picking the fact that they pick three artists in nationals to name the parties will take them away from the two party system in the US or our case, the two main parties like Democrat and Republican vote, I don’t really think I mean, I was really able, although I’m not really, you know, unusual about the US politics, but I was able to say, Oh, this is because one person or this is a moral person.

Andrew Sweatman 28:54
Yeah, that’s interesting. That kind of transitions. So my next question was going to be kind of, you know, this movie, there’s, I feel like there’s a lot of negative things that this movie shows that it’s sort of calling out different things about American democracy and American politics. But I think there are for me at least, there were some positive things too. Did you have anything that you know, but Okay, that’s a hopeful thing. That’s a positive thing about any any moments or characters in this film.

Obed Lamy 29:22
Um, there are many, many interesting things. First of all different but you can just gather 1000 young boys or young or future citizen in a place to help teach them or, you know, give them the opportunity to practice you know, the democratic process is something really interesting because in the next five or 10 years, there will be leaders and as a matter of fact, I I do have the feeling, you will see, they give some updates about what they are doing right now. I guess the guy named Steven He was for governor. And he was in the line of the Democratic Convention in Texas. So so we’re really, you know, really into real politics not only as good as for them. So that thing, this is really interesting for me. I mean, to me, in order an interesting thing, I would say, is also the commitment because we agree with, you know, what are the sides or what the order is, I believe, but to see people really, to see that people are really interested in, you know, being part of participate into politics, or participate in this making in society, that can be really helpful, because we are in a time where people are trying to stay away from politics. And as a journalist myself, I don’t think this is the best attitude, because if we are not in the womb, we cannot, you know, influence any change. Yeah, I think this is some of the few some of the positive things I can coach, from what I see in this field. And yes, I guess you want to talk about them? I would also say, I don’t know. I haven’t really seen the hands behind this event. I don’t know, maybe this is an artistic? Or I don’t know, choice made by the filmmakers, you kind of see, these boys are leading or owning the event itself. You don’t really see any. I mean, you don’t see a lot of you know, going persona as giving direction. I don’t know if it’s I don’t know if it’s something good or bad. I mean, it can be that those old or gone person they have you know, their political preference, you might think that the entrance is young boys, but at the same time, maybe to jump into some of the negative sides side of the theme. Oh, boys, this is also that. You don’t see any person trying to be the arbiter when something is going, you know, bad. Like the backlash? Yeah, that’s a good Yes. If this is a learning experience, they should learn not only about the democratic process, but also how to be here, when you deserve some. And some of the, some of the employees, they were really, really affected by those types of behaviors. I guess, Italy, I guess they will go home in those moments will stay with them. And if that event is meant to be a learning experience, when something bad, you know, like this backlash happen, yeah, there’d be somebody to bring the guys together. And to say, this is what is wrong about what to do. This is how it should be or so. Yes,

Andrew Sweatman 33:34
yeah, that’s a that’s a really good point. And so, yeah, so about that. I mean, as far as my voice date, experience, we were pretty led by adults and different things. But you’re right, it does seem like there’s not that many, like, you know, people in charge, especially like the Renee character again, he there’s a faction of people that want to impeach him. And, you know, I feel like if that had happened in my voice state that, you know, the leaders would have stepped in and stopped it or something. But, but, you know, Renee deals with it. Like he steps up in his, he shuts it down, basically, in a way that’s really interesting to watch. But yeah, I think that’s, you’re right, this, they just, it seems like they’re just kind of left to their own devices in a way that’s really interesting. But yeah,

Obed Lamy 34:17
I mean, he had any help, we are talking about Rene, again, he had any hurt, and he was you know, sometimes there are some friends just, you know, come to him and, you know, try to you know, give some comments in trying to help him to be more or to understand, okay, isn’t that bad, but you don’t see any adult person trying to fix. I mean, I have a sense that you can get into bursted in, you learn, you know a lot about elections and running for office and the different positions in the state, but the same time you go back home with any Change in your belief system in your viewpoints about politics and other social issue in society? To me, it’s, I don’t know, maybe I have this. A little bit pessimistic about it because of what we’ve seen over the past two years in this country. In talking about that, one of the comments I share with my friends is that I don’t know how much what we’ve seen in this country over the past, we will push the leaders to make some, you know, change into the way they organize by states, because, yeah, yeah, I guess there are some things people are being are trying to be more cautious about them. Right now. After seeing in the summer for this for racial justice in? Yes.

Andrew Sweatman 35:58
Yeah, that’s really interesting. I wonder if like, they can do like a boy state two and a few years and see, like, what’s it like, now? How are things different? Or even seeing these same characters? The end? Like, yes, down the road? That would be interesting, too. But yeah, that’s really good point, you know, what you said about just like people being involved, for one thing, like, it’s kind of, kind of interesting that they’re so young, because I feel like, I mean, my political beliefs when I was 17. And my political beliefs now are very different. Like, there’s, there’s also a sense of like, these people are, you know, they’re some of them are very outspoken about what they’re saying. And, yeah, but their kids, you know, so it’s just kind of a funny, funny thing to think about there. But then also what you said about, you know, there is a hopefulness and having people so invested in the democratic process. And I think you’re right, so I heard a quote, I can’t remember who or where, from the last few years, but it was about, you know, if, if you are able to say, I don’t really care about politics, or, or I’m not that interested in politics, that is actually a statement of privilege. And, you know, if you feel like you’re not as affected by policies, then you’re living a very privileged life. And that’s something that I realized, because that was honestly, that was my feeling about it. When I was 17. And I was there it was, I was kind of laughing it all off. And I’m not that interested in why do I have to go to this blah, blah, blah. Politics is boring. I later became much more interested in politics. But But absolutely, that was from a place of privilege, just, you know,

Obed Lamy 37:30
teenager, you know, I’m glad to bring that into the character of Stephen, for example, which he was, he is born here. And his mother was in, you know, undocumented person from Mexico. So, what was in real life? How does policy really affect his family? So he can not be? Just I don’t care. So he was, I really I was, I guess this is one of the characters that really, I was really I was more interested in. Yeah, but the most compelling to me because he wasn’t playing games, or he wasn’t a king. It seemed like he takes these things really reads furiously. He was crying again. He’s a mindful person. He has his notebooks. He doesn’t speak to words, for when his takes a comment, attention. He comments respect. Yeah. So how easy is it really compelling character?

Andrew Sweatman 38:39
Yeah, I was gonna say the same thing is that the the character of Steven at this time, of course, the character is a real person. He is he was hopeful for me. And so I feel like the movie have kind of aligns with him and kind of kind of paints him as sort of a hero in this setting. And so I was kind of, you know, trying to stay at a distance and say, I want the movie to influence me too much. Of course, you control that. But then even so I was still like, yeah, Steven, he’s a good guy. He’s doing things well. And, and even so yeah, like what you said about he’s a good public speaker, but it comes in a way that feels humble, and is he’s not getting up in. Yeah, he’s taking it very seriously, like you said, and yet it could come from the back or it comes from that makes a lot of sense that he would, but then even the, his ability to find common ground with people was pretty amazing. Because he, he had been at a gun control rally months before and they end up using that as a smear campaign like, Oh, he’s not really programs, look what he did here. And he gives a speech where he addresses it. And he’s like, here’s the deal, I think, you know, we can find common ground on this and he doesn’t have a really good way. And even just his ability to walk into a room of people that clearly disagree with him. And just be fearless and like, connect with them, I think was pretty amazing. Yeah, go ahead.

Obed Lamy 40:00
One of the thing I would say, which is interesting in the filmmaking process, or maybe it’s an artistic or maybe a political choice, or form the filmmakers, is the fact that they they Pete Stephen, as a real hero, although he lost his election. You see, you still follow him at the end of the lecture in, although he was trying, but he was dignified. Yeah. He wasn’t like someone. He was not like someone who just lost and we should forget about the audition about him. But I think they did a really, really great job. Yeah. He then the Deagle. Follow. Steven as a character.

Andrew Sweatman 40:49
Yeah, it is interesting. So I mean, I’m curious too, about how do they decide who to follow? Like, because I even before voice? How do they find the right guys? Maybe they plan to run for governor? I don’t know. Go ahead.

Obed Lamy 41:01
Yeah, that was my question. I raised the question before, because it’s a really short period of time, like only one week. You don’t? I mean, maybe they had, I don’t think they have crew. Yeah. Well, we, you know, to pain. Who is going to want for this or that? Because you see, like, everything is so natural with both boys. And when they were picking who is going to work for XYZ? Because you’d have seen something is not normal. If that was lame. Yeah. I don’t know. Maybe they have. Maybe the filmmakers have participated into some voices before and kind of knowing what is going to happen and trying to be. And by the way they had, because I like to read protocol that by the way. After the movie after the film, there is the names of the cast and the credits the credits. So I like to read that go everywhere on social media in India. There were about six coming up. Okay. 16, about two golfers and two additional camera. So

Andrew Sweatman 42:24
yeah, my guess is they did like a lot of research before and maybe they put up a few I don’t know, it’s pretty if I can find any information about how they did that. I’ll put it in the show notes. But it’s it’s pretty crazy. But maybe they knew these people were planning to run for something. And so they kind of follow them beforehand. Because Yeah, there’s a few. It seems like they were with them a few days before the event started to kind of talk about where they were. And then there’s some that planned to run for governor and then ended up going for party chair that was bins. I think his name was Ben. And he Yeah, so yeah, it’s pretty remarkable that they found those people.

Obed Lamy 43:03
So they’re bringing some of the characters very, maybe like, like, in the middle of the scene, for example, when he was not at the very beginning of the film. They bring him there, maybe after something like 20 minutes, I remember. Well, there was somebody as in they know that they want a drink. There isn’t there is the name, which is very big in the screen. So I don’t know, I think that 100 hours of footage isn’t? Yeah, they do a great job into crafting that story in the home. So yeah, yeah. It’s great. I mean, Andrew?

Andrew Sweatman 43:46
Yeah, I was very, very impressed by it, too. And yeah, and I’m not a documentary filmmaker. So I don’t even know the process. So carries more weight coming from you. But But you know, what I thought to you, like, they must have been just amazed at the the story that they got to capture because even as things unfold, you’re getting those those kind of confessional moments on the couch that people saying pretty shocking things. And I guess that kind of transition into my next question. So on the negative side, what about this? Did you Did you find any negatives about whether the event itself or just the democratic process as as we do it in the US, that stuck out to you in the movie?

Obed Lamy 44:27
I mean, as far as the democratic system in the US, I think, I don’t feel I don’t think I would have been comfortable to be as a citizen to have only two choice when it comes to a like a, like a, b, I mean, to vote for a Democrat or Republican, I think that we can be a fourth choice, because it’s really, really limited when you have on two bodies, for the democratic system in the US, but for voice that even in its sale, I think one of my critics will be the gender exclusively exclusively. To me, it poses a problem, because when you have a bunch of dude discussing issues related to, for example, women, oh, yeah, it’s beautiful day, they were talking with abortion. I know abortion is a very controversial topic in the US. But I don’t think you can make 1000 your own board. It’s ridiculous to like, planning and making they they were they were making decision but having strong opinion about something they have no, they are young, for one Indian women. I think in that way, that tells you how radical some politician will when they get you know, in higher angry, elected, you know, when when they get into real politics into real life. To me, that’s a problem. And I guess in number four, I will also say is that, I mean, although they are trying to kind of simulate the democratic process, but it’s not representative of what the society is because they ignore the vast majority of the population, which is, you know, the women. So I know, they say there, there is a girl state. But again, when those people will be experiencing politics in the real life example, there will be facing a

Andrew Sweatman 46:51
very different experience. Because

Obed Lamy 46:54
you don’t get the young goes to this platform where they can also fight or compete on a games, you know, young boys, I don’t think they can, they can really, if they can, I don’t see. I mean, I don’t think they can, they will really be able to apply to the experience in real life. Because this is not, you know, we live in Washington or, you know, in any state in the country. So, yeah, I think it’s probably, I don’t know, there might be some good arguments for why they have voices in versus diversity. But to me to have a sort of simulation of democratic process that can really be representative of for the society, what society is, we should include both men and women, girls and boys into the same platform, the same space where they can compete and have arguments and do all kinds of things. You’ve seen those boys, it can, you know, reinforce the project is to say, because so when those boards, again to some of my ID, when you have 1000s, of boy being gathered in one place, discussing matters for society being elected in, you know, high position that we go into, and think they can make decision for everybody. And forget about, forget about order. And quite frankly, the only issue they raised, which is about women was only abortion. Yeah, that’s really, they were more about gun control. They were more about economy, they were more, there was nothing about gender equality or nothing about racial equality. Yeah, it’s right. I mean, it’s really problematic thing they are trying to solve or the things we are trying to teach this boy can be really counterproductive in real estate.

Andrew Sweatman 49:01
I completely agree with all that. And I think to just like, when you get a bunch of boys together, they are going to just behave differently than they would if they were if they were women there too. And so there’s that aspect of it as well. But yeah, you hit it on the head too, because like someone even says at the beginning, I’ve never seen so many white people in my life. And so not only is it all men, but it’s it’s overwhelmingly white which that that probably reflects Texas to some degree but surely it’s not as as one side of this it seems to be in the film that there’s very few people of color there. My guess as far as like how boys that came around, I even feel like I may have heard this that originally there was Boys State and then at some point, girls date was created because girls were being excluded. And but it also it just feels you know, old fashioned in a way that all Boys State kind of feels old fashioned that that maybe one day they will integrate gender wise on that but but yeah, that’s an interesting point to you. But I like what you said too about. You go straight to the abortion, talk into the guns. And it seems like for me what was interesting, and not a good thing is how the rhetoric immediately went to the extreme things like that, like abortion and guns and like what else but they hit on those two things a lot. That probably just mirrors, you know, the rhetoric we hear from the White House or have heard in the past. And it’s, yeah, that’s where our political arguments go. And that’s that’s another kind of point in favor of, you know, maybe this two party system is not as, as effective as could be, which is not something I ever heard growing up. Like, I never thought the question two party systems, even though I knew that other countries were different, I didn’t ever think maybe there’s another way to do this. Yeah, I think that’s probably pretty common. Like, I don’t think we question too much the system that we have, because it seems like it would be really, really hard to change it to you. And, and, you know, hopefully, this film was helping to kind of cement that, yeah, just two parties is really bad. Everything. I think, I think I probably had the thought like, you know, it’s amazing how everything is split into two, you know, when I was growing up, but I never seriously considered any alternative to the reality that that it’s been for so long now. And it was only in recent years that I learned that George Washington himself was was not a fan of the two party system. And yeah, I think this movie makes that case pretty, pretty well, that. Yeah, being divided into that kind of gets into my next thing that some of the things that we get these revelations on the couch, are, are really shocking. One in particular, which maybe I can not spoil exactly what happens with it if someone hasn’t watched the movie, but basically, there’s a character who we hear very strongly speaking in pro life terms, and he’s on giving speeches and like riling up the crowd, and very much on that side of that issue, and then we find out in privately, oh, yeah, I’m completely on the opposite of that. But he said the quote that he said is, sometimes you got to say what you got to say in an attempt to win. And so it was a game to him. And it was about the power of it was just amazing to hear it in that Stark of terms that we know that’s how American politics operates, often that people make promises that they don’t necessarily intend to keep. But, you know, here’s what, here’s what our youth are learning from that, like he was completely two faced about it, and didn’t seem to have much of an issue. He said something about like, maybe it seemed like he didn’t even question it until they were interviewing him about it. Like, maybe that’s not okay thing to do. Maybe that’s a problem. But he had just been so outspoken against his beliefs, which again, it feels somewhat, I don’t want to just harp too much on President Trump, but definitely seems to have some parallels there. But anyway,

Obed Lamy 53:07
but again, the problem with that is the fact you have someone who can influence a group of people out nit, that this person personally, does not believe in and is not intimately connected with that issue, his poor life or, you know, the abortion thing that doesn’t affect them personally, because one, you have any person from the group, who that is directly impacted by this kind of policy that can raise their voice and say, This is what this story is, this is what the experience is, you have any experience into that. Then your ideology, I understand your political view, but this is what it is, for example, when you have Steven with immediate canes, he can have, he can share his not only perspective but also own experience. And as a matter of fact, in his speeches, he talked a little bit about how he believes in the American dream because his parents, they came here as under tremendous immigrants. If you you know, give a chance to people like me, we contribute to this country and blah, blah, blah. So that was a he was making, he was making a great case for co immigration policy, Bronwyn but when you have any person that is directly impacted by poor life or poor abortion policies, who can make a point in this form or in this conversation, and you have that guy who is just, you know, who just was using this as a way to He’ll get away and say behind closed doors. I don’t really believe in that. But the impact he has made. And to me that is, that’s really Probably,

Andrew Sweatman 55:16
yeah, that that moment in the movie, it’s really, it’s really something it really kind of took my breath away. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that. Because Yeah, you’ve you’ve watched him for so long. Yeah, just just talking, talking. Talk about it. Yeah, it’s, uh, that that moment for me was a big one. Another one was, I think it I don’t think it was on the couch. I think it was just kind of in conversation with his friends. And it was a character, just kind of casually saying, Oh, yeah, we’ve got to use personal attacks. If we’re going to win this election, we’ve got to attack them personally, which again, completely mirrors the politics that we see on TV. But they had no problem going after Stevens, you know, personal history and record on Instagram. And then they attack Rene as well about, you know, calling him biased and making a big show big political theater about this, this thing, and it just, it’s amazing how that was, that message has gotten ingrained that that’s how elections are supposed to work. And so that just comes out when you put them in this kind of experiment. It’s really wild.

Obed Lamy 56:19
One of my great one of my concerns about is seeing I guess I was trying to make that point before what I can go into that a little bit deeper now is the same way they use those Instagram posts. From Renae to attack him in these. That was a play there even is a play. It’s a really serious, but they took seriously, that’s fine. Yeah. I wonder if some of these guys maybe in the future, if they want to run for office, if people will not take some of their, you know, the some of the opinion their share in this field against them, because we’ve seen that now such area we call cancer culture. We I remember, Stephen, Kevin Hart, she was about to host the Oscars. I guess, somebody brought back. He’s something he posted on Twitter about gay many years ago and the backlash and he had to step away from that offered to host the Oscars. And now I wonder if some of those men there will change their opinions and their political views about some of the issues. And this film is here to stay. Today on a?

Andrew Sweatman 57:44
Yeah, that’s actually

Obed Lamy 57:47
that’s what I was trying to bring to the question of access, although these filmmakers get access who gives permission? Yeah, to even those board expressing views they don’t even know that much about. He will walk to a to be part of that game for one week and then go back home. Maybe some of them are really into politics in order or not. So those materials can be used against them.

Andrew Sweatman 58:17
Yeah, that’s really interesting. One thing, as you’re saying that I remembered when I was at Boys State, one thing they said over and over was, our future leaders of our state are here in this room all the time. So they really harped on like a you guys are going to be the people in charge. You know, it’s like our senators are right here. I’m sure in our future governors probably in this room. And that kind of thing was said a lot. And so yeah, if that’s the case here, yes, this might hurt the political chances of some of the people in this film, it’s pretty interesting to think about, yeah, I am interested chose some of them. Like, I feel like I can go find them on Instagram, you know, and follow them and see kind of what happens, because these are real people. And they might have real political careers. It is interesting in that ending, it kind of goes through, I think four or five of the boys and they’re about doing Yeah, I was trying to be rejoicing. Yeah, yeah. And what they what they’re doing now and it goes from like, one guy is excited about his new truck, you know, and it’s like, that’s kind of his The biggest thing going on in his life right now. All the way to Steven who’s Yeah, like giving a speech at the some democratic event that that’s really pretty cool. And I just kind of, you can see, already you had a sense, like, Who thinks this is a game and who really cares about it? And then you kind of see the fruit of that in that final segment, like who has gone on to do anything in politics and, and who hasn’t? So anyway, yeah. That’s an interesting point,

Obed Lamy 59:49
though, to speak about what you are saying if there is, I don’t know maybe I can be very biased, maybe. I mean, if there is one person, amen. leaders, leaders are those main characters, who is really smart politically, this is the man who was careful, he doesn’t speak too much he is He carefully chooses his words, trying to find common ground hasn’t said, you see, this is someone who is trying to protect his image as a politician. And as a matter of fact, he’s now in his way to be in into real political. So I guess some of your guys, if they were really, I don’t know if they knew what is really at stake, because they are not but of the boys that evening, but also part of a documentary, which is a documentary. So that is going they they will have been more careful as far as how they speak. Yeah. Because, okay, let’s take the example. I don’t know if that film was shot before what happened over the summer. But we have this big conversation in this country about racism and racial equity. Yeah. Oh, and we have Korean as a matter of fact, one of them is more is called Korean. I was reading that on the Boys State team website. So what happened is, I wonder how do they feel? How do their family members feed all customers feels when they see those boys harassing or back having this backlash against this black guy? Yeah.

Andrew Sweatman 1:01:44
Yeah, it’s like, there’s, it seems like there’s very few people of color. And then there’s one in power here. And they’re going to try to impeach him and, and like he calls it out. It’s like, this feels racial. And it absolutely felt racial to Me, too. And, yeah, that’s really interesting,

Obed Lamy 1:01:57
what you’re doing for intimidation. So I wonder how do they feel about that? Now, everybody’s to open eyes with what’s going on in terms of racial inequality or racism? Yeah,

Andrew Sweatman 1:02:09
so I think this was filmed in 2018, I think is what at some point, they said the year and so yeah, it was before any of that. And it I do wonder whether they would have been so bald, you know, if that had happened this year, you know, but yeah, that’s, that’s pretty interesting.

Obed Lamy 1:02:26
But I guess we learn more about the making of this failing, because I don’t know, maybe you could have had some of the parents or board members or boys is trying to influence the filmmaking decision in, in editing, trying to say, okay, we can move that. But for example, I remember. I don’t know if you’ve seen this short documentary series on Netflix, immigration nation.

Andrew Sweatman 1:02:57
I’ve heard of it. I’ve not watched it.

Obed Lamy 1:02:59
Watch it. So there was some really big trouble between the film crew and ice, because they ice gave access to the filmmakers, and based on a lot more in agreement. And they had to you remember, I guess there was a file against the filmmakers in a court to stop them from releasing the film because they violated the agreement. They discussed that on some of the podcasts I listed about this documentary interesting, where they say the filmmakers did something like the I was I was trying to have this like to watch every footage. Yeah, if they use them all before they publish them. And that wasn’t part of the agreement. So I wonder if there wasn’t the same kind of dynamic to it is actually, in this period of time, where politics is getting everybody’s attention and the political divide between, you know, the two parties and I don’t know, yeah, that’s an equation between me. And even the release of this film.

Andrew Sweatman 1:04:24
Yeah. It seems like Will there ever be this kind of access to a boy state again, now that we know that we’ve seen and like the people in charge are gonna be like, No, no, you can’t do this again. Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty interesting to think about to you. Yeah. Well, do you have any kind of final thoughts on the movie before it was or anything else you didn’t get to say before we wrap things up?

Obed Lamy 1:04:47
Yeah, again, we haven’t talked too much. And it’s difficult to talk about the film itself in the event because we are in a heavily political period of time. And we’re kind of more interested into the politics side of all the events itself because it’s a political event, then they fail. Talking about afterwards, we talked a little bit about some decision they made, or they make, which are more interesting in some of them can be problematic. But I guess Overall, we touches on a lot of things about this field. And I have to thank you because I am very lazy in that was a good reason or excuse for me to watch this fear. And usually, I watched documentaries, I watch much more, more documentaries, then there’s been so because I want to go, I am a documentary filmmaker. Yeah. And we’re watching a fee. I mean, whether it’s a documentary or not, I take notes. I posed to go on Instagram to follow somebody that really catches my attention in the field. I read about it, I listen to podcasts, I just I mean, every watching FM for me is more than one hour in 45 minutes. So it can be a week because I will keep getting to know all about the filmmaking process in the conversation on social media, and everything. So

Andrew Sweatman 1:06:26
I see eye to eye with you on that. Because, yeah, I always have an internal struggle, like, Oh, I want to watch more and more and more movies, but I want to watch one movie, and then like, take time to think about it. I want to watch the special features. I want to read articles. All those different things. So yes, I mean, that’s why I started a podcast. I love podcasts about movies so much like no, actually, I could do that. That’d be fun. So yes, I completely agree with you. And this movie, there’s so much. I feel like I need to go research more, even though I did some reading beforehand. But yeah, it’s about how this was made and how they came together. But yeah, it’s pretty, pretty remarkable film. I definitely recommend everyone check it out. You can watch on Apple TV. Yeah, that’s that’s Boys State. Thanks so much for for joining me today. Oh, bet it’s been really a great conversation. And I’m so happy to have heard your, your perspective on this and hear a little bit more about you. So thank you so much,

Obed Lamy 1:07:24
then go into driving. So we’ve been talking about that for so long. And finally, we get it done. And also thank you for making this space for, you know, filmmakers, and walking to you know, give another life to, you know, films or those works. Because, you know, I mean, I’m a filmmaker myself, I know what it means for me when we have people not only watch my finger, also discourse about them. So you are contributing to these aspects of the film, making world all things so I’m thankful not only because you host me today, but also because you give life to what? You, you’re helping filmmakers, and people in the film industry to get the word out. Because watching it mostly for documentary, it’s not just watching the documentary is also having the conversation. It’s also raising awareness about the issues. The film is basically in this is discussing. Yes, thank you for being part of the world.

Andrew Sweatman 1:08:44
Well, thank you so much. That means so much to me that you said that. And it’s because I mean, I just love movies, I think there really is a power in, in cinema. And so I want to get and have these conversations and the Arkansas film community has actually yet it’s been a great place to find people like yourself who, who have have thoughts about movies, and can get in and have these interesting conversations that I hope are helpful for people to not only contextualize the movie, but also, I just feel like movies are a way to grow as a person, especially a documentary where you’re kind of learning about real situations. So I appreciate you and I’m just so happy that we got connected. So yes, thank you so much. This has been a really, really great episode of the show. And I’m so thankful. thankful to you for that.

Obed Lamy 1:09:31
Thank you.

Andrew Sweatman 1:09:33
I loved that conversation so much. It’s such an interesting person and so kind and encouraging to me personally. Big thanks again to Obed for joining the show. If you’re new to art house garage, you can check out our podcast feed. This season is all about the best films of 20 as we run up to the Oscars in a few weeks, but we’ve also done a season on a classic film starter pack. We also did an arthouse film starter pack. We’ve looked at contemporary Asian filmmakers. We’ve been doing this a few years, so have a look back, there’s probably something else you might be interested in. If you’re a cinema newbie, don’t worry, we promise to never talk over your head, even when the film is pretty tough to understand. That’s part of what it means to us to be snob free. And stay tuned. We’ve got episodes coming up in the next few weeks on the new drama menari the Italian film Martin Eden. We’re planning to end the season with an Oscars reaction show after that award show airs on April 25. Thank you so much for listening to art house garage. Our theme music is by composer Paul hewn Feld. Learn more at the link in the show notes. If you want to support art house garage, leave a rating or review in your podcast app. Or you can buy an art house garage t shirt at art house slash shop. You can stay in the loop about art house garage and the films we’re covering by subscribing to our email newsletter at art house garage comm slash subscribe or you can email me directly Andrew at art house garage COMM And of course follow on social media. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and letterboxed just search at art house garage and all those places. And that will do it for this episode. Thank you again so much for listening, and until next time, keep us up

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Andrew Sweatman

Andrew is a writer, podcaster, and film lover who wants to help people think critically about movies. He lives in central Arkansas with his wife Allison and two children, Rosie & Beau. Andrew is the Senior Editor at Arthouse Garage and a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA). Find him at and on Twitter and Instagram: @ArthouseGarage.

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