Every year, rural New York Mills, Minnesota (population 1,199) hosts a philosophy competition for everyday Americans. Four different people from around the country debate in front of the citizens of this west central Minnesota town, arguing over questions like “Does Life Have Meaning?”, “Does Technology Free Us or Trap Us?", and "Does Poetry Matter?”. Each year, a new Great American Thinker is chosen by a citizen vote in the high school auditorium.
Every year, a new question is proposed by the town, while The New York Mills Cultural Center, which hosts the debate, encourages writers to consider the question using "personal experience rather than philosophical abstraction". Past contestants have included a truck driver, an assembly line worker, and a prisoner on death row.
Follow along as a stay-at-home mom, a chess champion, a business consultant, and a barista are all pitted against one another, publicly pondering the 2018 question: what has more of an impact on shaping one's life - success or failure? The Great American Think Off is a new documentary about one small town with lots of big ideas.
The film debuted on Pioneer Public Television in the spring of 2019, and is currently screening across the region. Contact Nik for screening availabilities.