What America Needs: From Sea to Shining Sea

Mark Wojahn Whatamericaneeds.com. 93 minutes.

Traveling by train, motor home, and car from New York City to Los Angeles, his trusty digital video camera in tow, Minneapolis-based filmmaker mark Wojahn stopped to ask more than 500 people of both genders, all colors, and every economic station, “What do you think America needs?” The diverse responses collected in this film–which include “a new president” more often than you’d guess (more often than you see on CNN, certainly)–convey a surprising degree of resilience and optimism in the wake of the (s)election of 2000 and the terrorist attacks of 2001.

“Accountability,” answers one self-described “staunch conservative” from atop a Harley in a Virginia trailer park. “Better dental care,” jokes a Halloween revelr pretending to have only two front teeth. “Everyone pulling together,” says a stern sheriff in Nevada. “Something needs to happen where the voices of the peope are actually heard,” offers a bookstore employee in East L.A.

The movie’s just-folks vibe is accentuated by Wojahn’s jittery videography and bumpy sound mix; shot on a consumer-model camcorder, his is a film that’s unprofessional–and unpretentious–in the best way possible.