SXSW documentary stars viral 24-year-old Texan who ran for city council hoping to inspire others

Austin

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — South by Southwest officially kicked off this week, aiming to highlight film, music and other interactive industries. The annual festival, which usually draws attendees from across the world to Austin, is completely virtual this year.

Film premieres, like Tuesday’s premiere of ‘Kid Candidate,’ are happening online without the usual exuberance of the theater. 

‘Kid Candidate’ follows the story of Hayden Pedigo, who decided to run for Amarillo City Council at only 24 years old. 

His campaign started as a joke — a comical video he and his friend made went viral. Soon, Pedigo realized he may actually have something to offer his community as a politician.

“Even before the video I had a lot of opinions on Amarillo and what I thought can be done better to help the city, especially as a young person. There was a lot of people I knew that were leaving to what they thought were better cities, because they didn’t feel like there was a lot of opportunity in Amarillo,” Pedigo said. “So I kind of realized, well, maybe I can use this to profile some of those issues that I see in my town.”

People didn’t take Pedigo seriously at first. He had no donors. Eventually, he found his supporters in the minorities of Amarillo who didn’t feel like they had a voice.

“These communities don’t really have any say in how the city is run,” Pedigo said. “And that was kind of my main thing was trying to use the film and my campaign to translate that side of things out and hopefully go beyond me, because I didn’t want to be the sole focal point of the story.”

As his video campaign gained attention, film director Jasmine Stodel began to follow his story.

“The more people he engaged within the community, I think, the more serious he became, because he actually realized what he was doing could make a real impact,” Stodel said. “And also those people were putting their hope in him.”

Although Pedigo lost to the incumbent in the May 2019 election, he still has his sights on a future in politics.

Stodel said she hopes this film will inspire more young people across the country to get involved in their communities.

“Amarillo is every town,” Stodel said. “The message I want this film to bring across is that you should vote in your local elections.”

The film’s world premiere was virtual, but those involved are already receiving a lot of positive feedback.

“It’s nice to see all the reviews come out, and people talk about it on social media,” Stodel said. “But there’s nothing like that tangible feeling when you’re in a theater.”

A spokesperson for SXSW said, “while we don’t have the wonderful in-person SXSW that we know and love, we are gathered together to be inspired by the work in chats, meetups, roundtables, virtual happy hours and in a wonderfully recreated Austin in SXSW Online XR,” Janet Pierson, SXSW director of film, said Wednesday.

Other films with Texas ties in this year’s festival include ‘Without Getting Killed or Caught,’ ‘InBetween Girl,’ ‘Through the Plexi-Glass: The Last Days of the San Jose,’ and ‘Dear Mr. Brody.’

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