“The film brings audiences both the joys and pains of our political system via high school”: Alexandra Stergiou and Lexi Henigman on their DOC NYC-premiering The Candidates

Filmmaker Magazine | 11/9/2018 | Lauren Wissot
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by Lauren Wissot

If you spent the 2016 election season trying to wrap your head around the surreal circus that passed for political campaigning, just imagine actually participating in it while studying for exams. Such was the situation for the students of Townsend Harris High School in Queens, which since 1996 has included in its curriculum an as-close-to-real-life-as-possible Election Simulation. Fortunately, filmmakers Alexandra Stergiou and Lexi Henigman were there to capture it all. On one side is Russian-American Daniel, aka Trump, trying to focus on making America great again instead of grabbing women by the ****. On the other, there’s Pakistani-American Misbah, aka Hillary, wooing votes with pizza and halal while coolly parrying xenophobic attacks (and all while wearing the hijab). And of course, there are stand-ins for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Bill, Melania, the media, the campaign operatives and all the rest of the sordid “swamp.”

Filmmaker - Co-directors - Scoop - Look - Civic

Filmmaker caught up with the co-directors to get the scoop on their fly-on-the-wall look at civic (mis?)education prior to the film’s November 10th premiere at DOC NYC.

Filmmaker: I can’t believe this mock presidential election has been going on at a high school in Queens for over two decades and I’d never even heard about it. It seems like perfect documentary material. How did you first encounter this such-a-New-York story?

Stergiou - New - York - Story - Queens

Stergiou: It is such a New York story! And more specifically, a Queens story. I’m from Queens, so a big thing for me was that The Candidates show my hometown. Queens is a beautiful place. It’s a vibrant, diverse and, in my opinion, underrepresented slice of the city that I’m sure audiences will appreciate.

I grew up with kids like Misbah and Daniel, and want to give kids like them a voice. As far as the Election Simulation goes, I know it intimately because I went to...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Filmmaker Magazine
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