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American Chaos

For six months leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election, director Jim Stern put his life on hold. “In my social and political circles, the prevailing belief was that we had just lucked into the guy we wanted to run against because he couldn’t win. America would never elect this guy.”

Poster for the political doc American ChaosDriven by a deeply personal need to understand what seemed incomprehensible at the time, Stern traveled through red states to learn directly from Donald Trump supporters what explained the billionaire’s surging appeal, and why these voters remained unfazed by the troubling things the candidate had said and done.

What Stern returned with proved to be a lesson in the central differences dividing America today – a cultural breach, still dangerously misunderstood, that continues to tear at the fabric of American democracy.

American Chaos is a fish-out-of-water film in which Stern talks to everyone from a wealthy Floridian to a Cuban ex-mayor, to direct descendants of the Hatfields and McCoys, to a man who wants to convict and kill Hillary Clinton for treason, to a rancher on a lonely night on the Arizona border.

Stern’s experiences vividly demonstrate that commitment to the difficult, painful, but ultimately redemptive process of searching for connections is what being stranded in electoral darkness is all about. As President Obama says in the film, “we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena, we go at it.”



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