Mayor Pete – Chicago Film Fest 2021

Mayor Pete. Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Documentary filmmaker Jesse Moss brings audiences inside Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign in the new documentary, Mayor Pete.

My first thought upon watching this film is that it’s amazing that Boys State was finishing up while Moss was hard at work on this film. But more than that, it shows the ins and outs of a presidential campaign. We get an inside look at the debate prep that comes with running for president. Getting elected to office is easier said than done but running for president is no easy feat for anybody. As we all know, his campaign would shockingly win in Iowa before coming to an early end and he would go onto endorse Joe Biden’s presidential bid. The rest is history. But anyway, the access that Moss gets is way more than any filmmaker could ask for. No campaign in the ride mind would let a filmmaker into the room for their debate prep. And yet, this is exactly what happens.

As a storyteller, Moss doesn’t ignore the criticisms that came with the campaign. If you followed the news or social media at any point during his campaign, you already know about South Bend residents being critical of his mayoral administration. Specifically, the police department if I recall correctly. At times, this criticism is at the center and we see Buttigieg responds to it. It would not be a complete film otherwise because it would not be telling the whole story.

Buttigieg would have made history had the results been different. He would have become the youngest president in history. More importantly, he would have become the first LGBTQ president. One thing I like about Moss’s approach is how the film doesn’t ignore the homophobia that came with the presidential bid. Oh, it’s certainly cringe-worthy to say the least but you cannot tell Buttigieg’s story without showing this aspect of life.

It’s disappointing that Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign came to an early end. At the same time, one can only imagine how hard it would be to continue filming during the first part of the pandemic. What Jesse Moss was able to do during his one year with Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign is simply remarkable. Mind you, he’s basically a one-man operation. There is another cinematographer on hand because it’s essential for a film of this nature.

As presidential campaign documentaries go, Mayor Pete is right up there with The War Room. Sure, the results didn’t go his way but the intimacy in this film is unlike many other campaign documentaries. How many campaign films would start out with one’s spouse telling the director what questions he wants to see answered in interviews? I feel like this is the first.

DIRECTOR: Jesse Moss
FEATURING: Pete Buttigieg, Chasten Buttigieg

Mayor Pete holds its world premiere during the 2021 Chicago International Film Festival in the Documentary and OutLook Competition programs. Amazon Studios will release Mayor Pete on Amazon Prime Video on November 12, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.