SXSW 2021 Review: Kid Candidate

Written by Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde


Kid Candidate was an unexpected and fun surprise. In this documentary, we are introduced to a well meaning 24 year old called Hayden Pedigo and his run for City Council in Amarillo, Texas. Jasmine Stodel’s directorial debut also gives us an inside look into local-level politics and the often maligned Texas panhandle. 

Part of what made Kid Candidate such a fun experience was how Jasmine integrated Hayden’s amateurish and hilarious campaign videos, testimony from his wife and friends, as well as Amarillo residents and local politicians to explain the reality of small town politics in Amarillo. There was an unexpected universality to their descriptions which focused not only on politics but the lack of opportunities in small towns that often lead to an exodus of people looking for opportunities elsewhere. Hayden’s view, I am sure resonates with many people that were brought up in a similar town, was that people could not excel in Amarillo and he wanted to change this dynamic and give people a reason to stay. His mayoral run was also inspired by a desire to get more young people to become active participants in politics at the local-level. 

The big picture dynamics of this documentary tell the story of political greed that runs rampant in the American political system by highlighting the role big money plays in politics. It was not surprising but fascinating to understand that 6-figure elections were being run in this relatively small city. While Hayden did not win the election he had a somewhat moral victory by being the only candidate to run without donations or official promotion.  In the end, this documentary shows us that it is possible to imagine a new political future All incumbents might have held their place in the Amarillo elections but Hayden’s journey brought in a little bit of hope and humor into a vision of what Amarillo and American small towns could look like in the future.

You can check out some of the above referenced campaign videos here. Hayden and his friends were inspired by director Harmony Korine and were even able to set up a digital billboard to ask him to visit Amarillo.

Kid Candidate is currently playing at the SXSW 2021 Film Festival.

You can follow Maria Manuella Pache de Athayde on LetterboxdTwitter, or Instagram and view more of what she’s up to here.

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