“We knew we always wanted to make ‘Girls State’…the question was just when and where,” said co-director Amanda McBaine after the film’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival Friday. McBaine and Moss return to Park City, Utah with a spiritual “sibling” to their 2020 documentary “Boys State,” following 500 teenage girls from Missouri as they engage in a week-long immersion program involving the creation of a democratic society.
For McBaine and Moss, they initially thought about returning to Texas, the location of “Boys State,” for this new go-round. But ended up finding a similar program in another red state: Missouri. For the filmmakers, who have two teenage daughters, they wanted to document how young women today are navigating a “post-Roe” environment. “How are young women finding their political voice?” Moss tells TheWrap’s Drew Taylor.
“You’re always a little terrified when you show [people] the first movie,” said Moss, in response to how difficult it was to convince Missouri to let them film. The directors said there was a little “sweet talking,” but not a lot. The original film did most of the work, showcasing the filmmakers’ sensibility. “There’s a deep affections for those programs,” said McBaine. “What’s interesting about Girls State in Missouri was they were running at the same time as Boys State,” said Moss.
“We hoped we would be surprised and we were,” said McBain as both maintain that “Boys State” and “Girls State” may have similar filmic DNA but are inherently different. “It surprised me how much they tranformed over the week, “said McBain. “Everybody begins pretty politely and the civility continues, but people get much more confident in speaking their minds…we have very conservative girls and very liberal girls.”
“Girls do things differently,” said Moss. “They don’t do politics the same way…Thse girls are ambitious and smart…but they aren’t secretly trying to tear each other down.” McBaine made a point to say this isn’t “Mean Girls.” That being said, McBaine and Moss said they did get notes from their 14-year-old daughter, one of which they did take and is in the film; their 17-year-old daughter also acted as a PA on the documentary.
That being said, it’s a full-circle moment that the directors and their children could come together on this project as it’s not unlike those discovering “Boys State” for the first time. “What was so cool about ‘Boys State’ was seeing the parents watch the film with their kids” said Moss. “It’s a film that young people want to watch. It’s for them….it speaks to them and what they’re thinking and feeling right now.”
Watch the full interview above.
Apple will release “Girls State” on April 5.