SXSW Review: FrontRunners

March 14, 2008

  • US Release Date: SXSW Film Festival 2008
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Running Time: 80 minutes
  • Directed by: Caroline Suh
  • on IMDb
  •    6.5/10

Well, this is the third film set in a school I have seen after first watching American Teen and Some Assembly Required here at SXSW. I was hesitant to see this one because I thought I might be getting a bit tired of the school scene. It turns out that I could handle another film like the others and actually quite liked it. FrontRunners turned out to have a bit of heart come through that made it worthwhile, although it was my least favorite of the three school documentaries.

FrontRunners follows the story of four candidates as they run for president of the student counsel. Popular girl Hannah Freiman, the extracurricular expert George Zisiadis, lazy but popular Mike Zaytsev, and basketball player Alex Leonard make up the candidates running for office. We get to see a glimpse of the high school version of choosing what issues to make a part of their campaign, participating in televised debates, and trying to win votes by getting out amongst the students.

The reason I liked this doc the least is because unlike the others there weren't really any characters that I felt like I got to know and love. George and Hannah had the most personality but once you've seen American Teen and the incredible character development it had, you will be disappointed with FrontRunners. Seeing all of these documentaries this week I've realized how important character development is, especially in docs. With all of the processes and procedures that are shown, having characters that you can fall in love with will carry you through the film.

FrontRunners will be a great film for teachers and faculty to show at schools with the hopes of making high school elections appealing to anyone. Other than that this will only appeal to select people or those that like watching documentaries no matter the subject it deals with. If you do happen to see it, just know that I would have voted for Hannah.


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