Price: $210.00

    Code: 2287

    Directed by Caroline Suh
    2008, 81 minutes
    Purchase: $210 | Classroom Rental: $125

    It's hard to run for office — even in high school. Frontrunners follows the recent elections at the ultra-competitive Stuyvesant High School in New York City, and explores how politics works at its most nascent level.

    The campaign for student body president at Stuyvesant, perhaps the most prestigious public high school in the country, is almost as sophisticated as any presidential election. Candidates must choose running mates, navigate primaries, write political platforms, perform in televised debates, shake as many hands as possible, and win newspaper endorsements. But unlike presidential candidates, they also have to do their homework, take their SATs, and write their college applications.

    At first glance, the candidates might seem like archetypes: a popular heartthrob, the rich cheerleader, the slacker jock, and a lone wolf straight out of Rushmore. But each is more complex than they might first appear. The candidates worry about their images, see their shortcomings and pick running mates accordingly. Can you really win without an Asian on your ticket -- when the voting public is more than 50% Asian? Is an all-female ticket automatically a loser? Will anyone vote for an outsider? And who will be charismatic enough to win the televised debate and knowledgeable enough about the real issues to impress the newspaper editorial board?

    As Frontrunners unfolds, the story takes on undertones familiar to anyone who has been a spectator to a national campaign - revealing that young people today have an implicit understanding of how strategy, race, gender, personality, platforms, charisma, height, and hairstyle figure into a winning campaign.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * World Premiere, South by Southwest Film Festival, 2008


    Three and a half stars "One of the most enjoyable documentaries ever made about high school life, offers an endearing and at times howlingly funny study of the nature of democratic elections as seen in a pimply-faced microcosm. A real life counterpart to 1999's Election, this wildly entertaining documentary is highly recommended." - Video Librarian “Frontrunners is an excellent film and represents irreplaceable value to a high school audience. This film is recommended to those with an interest in high school politics and its social dimensions, and its all-too-conspicuous allegory for national politics.” – Educational Media Reviews Online

    [Starred Review] “This look at how political campaigning works at the grassroots level will be a hit with students and teachers. Teen devotees of reality TV will be entertained by the mild drama of this documentary film. Teachers of student leadership and government will find discussion points about voters and the election process to expand upon in their classes.” - School Library Journal