Who knew a documentary could be an engaging edge of your seat thriller and at the same time an inspiring call to the renewal of democracy. The story follows the campaign of an unabashedly progressive 29 year old political science prof, Jeff Smith,who runs for Dick Gephardt's congressional seat in Missouri. He's up against a slew of political opponents, any one of whom has greater name recognition and financial wherewith-all than Jeff can ever hope to match. Everyone assumes the seat will go to political insider, Carnahan, son of the late Senator and former governor of Missouri who was killed in a tragic plan crash whose seat was then taken over by his wife, Jean. Even his own family questions his quixotic decision to run. The movie follows what happens when Jeff takes on the establishment with no money and a handful of 20-something volunteers who make up in heart and energy what they lack in experience. What happens is a roller coaster ride that reveals the possibilities for taking politics out of the hands of the professional handlers, the chattering classes, and the oligarchy of well-connected, well-financed political dynasties like the Bushes in Texas or the Kennedys in Massachsetts. Jeff's inspiring story is almost enough to re-ignite one's faith in the democratic process and the power of ordinary citizens to reclaim their political power. I saw the film at Silver Docs where it won the festival audience favorite award.
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