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Review: Kid Candidate (2021)

Kid Candidate Review


One has never had so many new experiences to take a shot at than this year’s SXSW Film Festival edition. Kid Candidate is one unusual documentary, where we meet Hayden Pedigo, a 24-year-old experimental musician that wants to run for city council of his city, Amarillo, in the state of Texas, after his spoof campaign video becomes viral. For a short hour we meet Hayden and his wife, alongside a number of Amarillo residents that shape the different communities that live in the city, as well as their political views of a better governed town. Kid Candidate is an intriguing small film that has some interesting ideas, although it stumples across a format that fits more into an extended-campaign-video enhancing the qualities of an ambitious young politician, rather than in the cinematic artistic landscape.

Kid Candidate Review
KID CANDIDATE subject Hayden Pedigo performing at 2019 SXSW Music in a scene from SXSW 2021 Documentary Feature Competition KID CADNIDATE

Kid Candidate is directed by Jasmine Stodel, and a Gunpowder & Sky production in association with XTR, who succeeds in making its main subject appealing to the audience, by nuancing Pedigo’s journey with a sense that youth can be a positive change for the seemingly unprogressive political environment of North-America. While never quite denying the caricatured personas of its charismatics characters, Stodel manages to altogether bring an amount of mindsets that can resonate to the world. The message is clear: why are we affraid of letting younger people with progressive ideas try to run for a leadership position? Society, as a whole and in many countries, is driven by this standardization that only powerful, well influenced candidates are fit to rule. Stereotyped politicians have always followed a “normal pattern” in rising to power by showing that they have money in their pockets and that this money is somehow intended to be given to the common citizen. While we become infatuated with the idea that these people will bring change to a system that needs to keep moving forward in loving its not-so-rich counterparts, many of the times, we, as voters, never quite see any changes for the better, or see that all-too-shiny money being used for more essential needs or for society’s wellfare in the fight against poverty or unemployment. Instead, we are fed lies and our donations to their campaigns are reduced to buying these politicians a Giorgio Armani suit or an expensive golden watch.

What Hayden Pedigo did is an act of bravery that stands out to defy these norms and social preconceptions. Even if we can’t help ourselves to laugh at some of Pedigo’s immaturity, and can’t taking him seriously at first, Kid Candidate manages to upgrade its focus and builds a new character, with clear ideals, humble and progressive morals, which ultimately help the film to become more satisfying in the long run. There is also the question of Amarillo’s charismatic and colorful residents, who are featured in Kid Candidate because they too have a role to play to enhance Pedigo’s persona to reach new heights. And this is where the film starts to get a bit too ambitious and falls short of delivering a refreshing statement in the documentary field. Although very interesting in its approach and extremely amusing with the treatment of the different instrumental people of Amarillo (and in Pedigo’s life), Kid Candidate is too focused in elevating an unbelievable politician journey to stardom, rather than exploring a more artistic way to tell his story. Entertainment is one thing, art is another, they can combine and provide something exciting for all cinema lovers, but Stodel’s vision is not clear on what the film actually is. Are we watching a campaign video? Why is the story of Hayden Pedigo so memorable to the world?

Taking advantage of an entertaining piece is certainly worth the watch when we are watching the news with our families and get to see Pedigo’s political coming-of-age story; but as a whole, it does not fit in the world of cinema as an artistic production. While it certainly is entertaining and exposes some of Amarillo’s most talented players, Kid Candidate acts more like a long political propaganda video than a feature length film. It does have some interesting ideas that pick the audience’s curiosity, but it is not enough to be taken seriously as a structured and otherwise creative documentary piece.

Kid Candidate Review
2021 SXSW Documentary Feature Competitoin KID CANDIDATE subject Hayden Pedigo in a campaign shoot for the 2019 Amarill City Council race. Photo Courtedy the candidate.

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Title: Kid Candidate

Original Title: Kid Candidate

Director: Jasmine Stodel

Runtime: 68 min.

Trailer | Kid Candidate