(Feature Documentary, Premiere Sundance Film Festival 2020)
Strap up your saddle and get ready for a wild ride. Boys State is a political coming-of-age story, examining the health of American democracy through an unusual experiment: a thousand 17-year-old boys from across the state of Texas gather together to build a representative government from the ground up. High-minded ideals collide with low-down dirty tricks as four boys of diverse backgrounds and political views navigate the challenges of organizing political parties, shaping consensus, and campaigning for the highest office at Texas Boys State—governor.
Documenting impeachment threats, dramatic debates, underdog victories, and even nefarious internet memes, filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine (The Overnighters, 2014 Sundance Film Festival) chart the dramatic twists and turns of these intersecting stories to reveal profound truths about our political choices and civic obligations and to remind us, ultimately, that democracy is not a spectator sport. With cunning insight that will have audiences buzzing, Boys State holds a mirror up to our divided country. This is a film for the ages in every sense of the term.
Directed and Produced by Jessie Moss and Amanda McBaine
Edited by Jeff Gilbert
Co-Editor: Michael Vollmann
(Television Pilot, 2018)
For almost two decades, the Yes Men (Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno) have been pulling off hilarious political actions that make global headlines.
In this pilot episode for a potential television series, The Yes Men take on gun control.
Directed by The Yes Men
Story Supervisor: Barry Poltermann
(Documentary Feature, 2017, Premiere SXSW)
The policeman who killed Milwaukee resident Dontre Hamilton in April 2014, in a public park in the middle of the day, shot him 14 times. He wasn’t the first cop to approach Hamilton as he dozed in the downtown park — others had been there and seen that he was doing nothing wrong. Why an employee at a nearby Starbucks saw the need to call the police about him, and not once but twice, is one of the sorriest aspects in the horrific chain of events that robbed Hamilton’s family of their son and brother. The 31-year-old black man was schizophrenic and, except for the baton that he reportedly grabbed from the officer, unarmed.
Ljung’s clear-eyed film finds hope within terrible circumstances, and strength within heartbreak. Given the continued unfortunate timeliness of the subject, the doc would certainly find an audience in a wider platform beyond the fest circuit.
Opening with a James Baldwin quote and ending with riots in Milwaukee over another police-involved shooting, Ljung’s film illuminates an American crisis — the emotional fallout as well as the vigilance and hard work required to address the use of lethal force by police, their accountability, and the need for better training in dealing with mentally ill people. In Nate Jr. and Maria Hamilton, he shows that vigilance in action, heartbroken but unwavering.
Directed by Erik Ljung
Edited by Michael Vollmann
Trailer Editor: Matt Prekop
Executive Producer Barry Poltermann
(Documentary Short, 2015, Premiere SUNDANCE)
This short documentary premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and tells the story of the first widely recognized computer hackers — a group of teenagers who gained notoriety in 1983 when they broke into the pentagons computer systems.
Director: Michael Vollmann
Producer: Chris Thompson
Editor: Amanda C. Griffin
(Documentary Short, 2013, Premiere ESPN “30 for 30”)
The rust-belt city of Milwaukee, WI, used public funds to commission an eccentric, openly-gay artist Robert Indiana to paint the Bucks basketball floor in the 1970’s. But after the Bucks moved across the street to the newly constructed Bradley Center, the MECCA Arena floor was left in storage and all but forgotten by the general public.
A September Club / Matador Content / Good/Credit Production
Director: Chris James Thompson
Editor: Michael Vollman
Story Supervisor: Barry Poltermann