Texas, USA is written and directed by Andrew Morgan and is his latest feature documentary. This film is about the fight for real and lasting change in Texas and beyond, featuring candidates and organizers who never give up on our democracy. The film showcases what it takes to fight for a stronger democracy through the stories of then-candidates Greg Casar, Beto O’Rourke, and Lina Hidalgo. It also includes Dallas-based organizer Brianna Brown of the Texas Organizing Project and Austin-based advocates Tory Gavito of Way To Win and Adri Pérez, one of the most recognizable trans advocates in the state. This group of people is young, diverse, and progressive. They challenge traditional views of Texas and its politics. There is excellent footage of the candidates and their history as they campaigned. It is a perfect way to understand what they proposed to do and what they achieved.
We meet the characters in January 2022 in the lead-up to primary elections that will define the general election in November. The three candidates are Beto O’Rourke, 50, who is running for governor against Greg Abbott, one of the country’s most outspoken conservatives, after losing a high-profile race for Senate against Ted Cruz in 2018. Greg Casar, 33, competes in a newly formed Congressional district after serving six years as the most progressive member of Austin’s City Council. Lina Hidalgo, 31, is running for re-election as chief executive of Harris County, a county of 4.8 million people, including Houston. These characters paint a picture of a new kind of Texas politician: young, progressive, and deeply connected to Texas’ Latino culture and history.
For the midterm year, they shape a political ecosystem that aims to build power for people in communities who historically have been left out of the political process. The film focuses on the humanity and persistence of people who are working for their communities within a democratic process that is on shaky ground. Throughout the year, they face enormous obstacles in increasingly extreme and anti-democratic policies, including the harshest voter suppression laws in the country.
We also see the work of people who help narrate the issues animating political life in Texas in 2022: Brianna Brown, executive director of the Texas Organizing Project, who is leading one of the largest mobilizations of Black voters in the state’s history; Tory Gavito, executive director of Way To Win, who is raising tens of millions of dollars from around the country to support candidates and organizations in Texas and the Southwest; Adri Perez, a trans advocate, and strategist, who is mobilizing trans families to fight back against cruel new regulations enacted by the state; Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit and is confronting Texas’ policy of over-incarceration; and Hannah Horick, an abortion advocate, who is organizing Democrats in her small, conservative city in response to Texas’ abortion ban and the rollback of Roe v. Wade. This film lets the public know who the individuals are and what they go through to make change happen.
Director of Photography: Helen Cassell; Original Music: Duncan Blickenstaff; Editor: Tyler Pharo
Texas, USA, was in select theaters last month and will be available on all digital platforms on October 6, 2023.