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  • Still from Better This World

    Still from Better This World

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The Film

"Get ready – because we're going to shut this f---er down!" These were the words spoken by charismatic revolutionary Brandon Darby, 32, as he prepared David McKay, 22, and Bradley Crowder, 23, of Midland, Texas for protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention. With a wounded cowboy charm, Darby told his star struck protégés activist war stories — from tangling with Middle Eastern gun runners to rescuing victims from the toxic waters of Katrina. Over more than eight months leading up to the convention, Darby was coach and mentor to the young men — training them in fighting techniques to engage police, relaying romantic stories of Molotov-throwing anarchists, and pumping them up for what he promised would be serious political action in Minneapolis. "Direct action is intense – and anyone who comes with me is going to be successful. I'm not f***ing around!"

But what Crowder and McKay didn't know was that Darby was an FBI informant. And on the eve of the convention the young men, both political neophytes with no criminal records, were busted for making and possessing eight Molotov cocktails. Each faced multiple federal terrorism charges and decades in prison. Darby, until then their mentor, would be the government's star witness against them.

Using the trial as a backdrop and dramatic narrative, Better This World untangles a web of questions: Why did the government spend nearly eight months following political naïfs with no criminal history? Why did their informant Brandon Darby, who was to be "eyes and ears only," seem to become their leader? Why did these all-American boys from Midland build eight bombs? Better This World probes these questions and more as it paints a gripping portrait of the strange and intriguing odyssey of these young men.

The Filmmakers

  1. Kelly Duane de la VegaProducer/Director
  2. Katie GallowayProducer/Director