Jesse Moss was in the process of editing his startling and illuminating documentary, BOYS STATE, when he was offered the chance to follow a longshot candidate in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries. He wasn’t that interested, then he watched that candidate, Pete Buttigieg, in a primary town hall and changed his mind. As the first openly gay candidate to run for president, the mayor of South Bend, ID had his work cut out for him Moss’ documentary, though, provides us with remarkably intimate footage of Mayor Pete’s quest for the nomination, and through that lens, particularly the relationship the candidate has with his husband, Chasten, provides unprecedented insight into left-handed Maltese-America combat veteran who speaks eight languages.
When Moss and I spoke via Zoom on November 12, 2021, we started with Moss’ decision to plunge into another political documentary before moving on to why Chasten is the first person we meet in the documentary; what Pete’s candidacy says about the state of politics these days; and how Moss negotiated with Pete’s political handlers.
We went on to talk about being ready for anything (and the unexpected advantages that come with that); getting behind the public persona; the scenes of which he is most proud; and different expressions of homophobia around the candidate and the film.
We finished up with Moss talking about what it’s like for the interviewer to be interviewed.