'Make America Great?' Short Film Imagines Trump-Era Dystopia

Make America Great? Still - Publicity - H 2017
Ari Davidson

Make America Great? Still - Publicity - H 2017

As the country transitions to life under a new president, artists are inspired to create new works.

It’s often said that pain inspires creativity. If that’s true, then Hollywood’s Trump detractors will be entering a boom time for art.

“There’s so much material to work with,” says filmmaker Candice Vernon, whose new satirical short film Make America Great? imagines the state of the country in 2021, after the re-election of President Donald Trump. “He is such a character. It’s gonna be the best four years ever to create.”

But the film’s hypothetical version of the general future is less optimistic. Make America Great? (streaming now on YouTube) imagines a nation that has repealed the 13th and 14th amendments (which outlawed slavery and guaranteed citizenship rights to all native-born and naturalized individuals, respectively). As a result, blacks and Latinos are being hunted and sent to internment camps.

The short takes place in an empty church, where a gathering of fugitives are hiding out and plotting their escape to the border. Over the course of 12 minutes, the script explores several dynamics, including colorism (the ability of light-skinned blacks to pass as white), the use of the N-word, typecasting and Mexican-American stereotypes. Vernon, a freelance commercial producer who relocated from New York to Los Angeles last summer to pursue directing full-time, conceived and shot the self-financed film during two weeks in October, before the election.

“As artists, we have huge influence in the world, parallel to the president’s,” said cast member Stephen Barrington at a screening of the film in Culver City last week. “I hope artists take notice of their influence more.”