David McKay, Bradley Crowder
CONCEIVED AND DIRECTED BY
Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega
The "Texas Two," Bradley Crowder and David McKay, are the central subjects in Better This World, an insightful, convicting and downright frightening feature documentary from co-directors Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega. The two young men were convicted of domestic terrorism for allegedly possessing firebombs during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Better This World is remarkably well produced and constructed, bluntly revealing the hypocrisy of a nation that praises global youth for their outrageous acts of activism while squelching by virtually any means necessary the voices of young and old dissenters alike when it is deemed in our nation's "best interests."
These two youth, from the conservative city of Midland, Texas, were oddballs in their community - they were young men who were incredibly opposed to actions in Iraq and what they began to view as an ever increasing violation of basic human rights by the U.S. government. When they came across Brandon Darby, an activist ten years their senior and vastly more experienced, they became swept up in his radical activism fervor and their actions became increasingly aggressive fueled by Darby's intensifying encouragement.
The problem? Darby, as it would later be revealed, was an FBI informant and was, at least as is presented here, leading the two young men down a path with every intention of informing the FBI of their actions. Entrapment? It sure seems like it, if the evidence here is as accurate as it is presented.
While Better This World definitely puts its support and sympathies behind these two young men, the filmmakers do an excellent job of presenting all sides of the issue with activists, FBI, politicians and others interviewed. Even when it is revealed that one of the two young men is being less than truthful, it's hard not to finish watching the film appalled at the behavior of the government in what is supposed to be a "free" country.
Shocking and even frightening, Better This World offers an in-depth look at post-9/11 realities when it comes to the concepts of justice, social justice and freedom of expression. Having premiered at SXSW this year, Better This World continues on the film festival circuit and will be screening at the Indianapolis International Film Festival from July 14-24, 2011.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic