“I think that youth should be heard—and not only heard, but listened to,” says a teenager in the short documentary My America. As the reverberations from last weekend’s Marches for Our Lives continue to make headlines, Barnaby Roper’s film offers a galvanizing portrait of youth in America’s heartland.
Roper traversed middle America in search of answers after the 2016 election. “People would always say to me, ‘It was middle America’s fault,’” Roper told The Atlantic. “But I never understood this. So I wanted to go and see for myself. I wanted to make a film about the next generation of Americans—the generation that would inherit our successes and failures, our strengths and weaknesses.”
The production team, led by Cadence Films, encountered young people as diverse as the country in which they live. From teenagers fighting gun violence to extreme sports champions to misfits escaping homophobic families, the subjects of My America seem to have one thing in common: a disinclination to repeat the mistakes of an America past. “The American Dream is a total figment of the imagination,” says one young woman. “It died with history.”
Despite the fact that it was born of election results, Roper insists that “this is not a political film. It’s about hope. It’s about strength of the youth of our country. The youth of world need to be listened to.”