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Directed by Caroline Suh (Mongrel Media)

To become the successful winner of a student-council election at most high schools, all you need is a few signatures, a pile of semi-clever posters, a relatively coherent speech and god-given popularity. (And the promise of free pizza and more dances.) But at NYC's elite Stuyvesant High School, politics are serious business---and public favour is not won by pizza-promises alone. The clever, hilarious documentary Frontrunners follows one election-cycle at the school, and profiles earnest, ambitious weirdo George, actor Hannah (she name-drops Todd Solondz, and had a sizeable part in Palindromes), cocky Mike and lackadaisical Alex---the four candidates brave/foolhardy enough to submit themselves to the school's gruelling month-long presidential election process, which features both a primary and a general election. Along the way, the candidates pick racially strategic campaign-mates (it's important to appeal to the school's significant Asian population), fight for endorsement of the school paper (a publication that students actually read and pay attention to), prepare for televised debates and figure out the optimal place to hand out flyers. Stuyvesant's election feels like a "real" election in microcosm---a cleaned-up version, that is.

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Vol 25, No 28
December 7, 2017

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