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One lesson Kevin Gordon learned while making TRUE SON is that documentary filmmakers cannot be everywhere at once. He explained to me the one shot he most regretted missing when we spoke on June 6, 2014. I agree it would have been nice to have, but the lack of does nothing to diminish the impact of this film about a remarkable young man doing something extraordinary.
Michael Tubbs was a 22-year-old Stanford Graduate when a personal tragedy brought him back to his hometown of Stockton, CA, a town consistently rated as one of the worst in the United States. Instead of pursuing the lucrative career options that his degrees afforded him, he decided to change things by running for the city council from his neighborhood in a troubled section of Stockton. He faced an incumbent who had been in office for years, despite not being from that area, and a complete lack of experience when it came to mounting a political campaign. Undaunted, Tubbs spearheaded a grassroots campaign with supporters who believed not just in him, but in the future of their city. And Gordon was there to capture (almost) all of it.
Battling 105 degree heat, and yapping Chihuahuas that seemed to be everywhere, Gordon shot the footage, and then crafted it into a film that captures the idealism of all concerned, an idealism untainted by naiveté, and undaunted by the odds. The result is a film that is uplifting about the democratic process and its possibilities.
Gordon discussed the heat, the dogs, and the effect that seeing this process first-hand had and has on his view of politics in these United States. We spoke just before the film screened at SF Indie Fest, where it received a thunderous ovation. The film is currently screening as part of the UNAFF, which runs in Palo Alto and San Francisco, CA on October 16-26. More information about where to see the film in other venues can be found here.
It’s worth seeking out even if you’re not in the San Francisco Bay Area. TRUE SON is a powerful documentary about hope, change, and direct action. It is a portrait of passion and burning out, determination and rejection, and above all a lesson in the purest manifestation of what democracy should be.
This is Gordon’s first feature-length documentary.
Click here to listen to the interview (12:49) TRUE SON — Kevin Gordon Interview.