Winning documentary that will inspire youth to make a difference
I attended a special screening of writer/director Jason Pollock's inspiring documentary "The Youngest Candidate" at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival.
This powerful film follows the frenzied lives of four people running for elective office in America: George Monger of Memphis, looking for a city council seat; Raul De Jesus, running for the office of Mayor in Hartford, Connecticut; Pittsburgh suburban school board candidate Tiffany Tupper; and Atlantic City's Ytit Chauhan, who hopes to upset the long-corrupt balance of power on the city council in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
What makes their campaigns unique, and notable enough to document on film, is that they range in age from 18-20. They are certainly legally entitled to run for elective office but many question their emotional readiness, and Pollock's film pulls no punches as it attempts to answer their critics as well.
There are no talking heads here -- just these passionate young adults telling their stories, even recording their own video diaries at times. Presented by YOUnited Foundation with the power of David Letterman's Worldwide Pants and legendary producer Lawrence Bender, the filmmakers had the resources to put together a comprehensive, poignantly shot, and crisply edited examination of what could be, literally, the future of American politics.
As the cameras follow them around in the months, weeks, and feverish hours prior to their respective election days, we get a glimpse of all that is wonderfully right and painfully wrong with our elective process. Atlantic City's Ytit Chauhan is particularly candid about his campaign tactics. He may not be 100% ethical in his practices, but he's a choir boy compared to the insidious corruption and bribery committed by his opponents, well-documented in the annals of Atlantic City's political history. He's a crowd favorite and provided many of the film's most entertaining moments.
In the end, "The Youngest Candidate" isn't about the lofty goal of running for office per se but is more about simply getting involved, doing something -- anything -- to make America a better place. If the film urges just one person to get out, register, and vote, it will have done its job. As Pollock explained in his moving introduction to the screening, "The Youngest Candidate" isn't just a film -- it's a movement which will continue long after the movie is a memory.
And don't miss the end credits -- the audience is treated to a glimpse of some of the 50 young people who have run, and successfully obtained elective office in the United States in recent years. Most are small-town mayors but change begins at the local level. This is an unfinished story which will continue to unfold, hopefully under the watchful lens of Jason Pollock .
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