True Son

Directed by Kevin Gordon

Starring Michael Tubbs

A native son of bankrupt Stockton, Calif., 22-year-old Michael Tubbs decides to run for a seat on the city council. This inspiring documentary charts his campaign to bring the city back to solvency and improve the lot of its citizens.


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  • ★★★★ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd

    In 2005 there was an unforgettable documentary called Street Fight which told the story of a young black activist named Cory Booker who was running for Mayor of Newark. He was a charismatic, liberal, novice politician with important ideas and ideals; and the film made the viewer care about this man. Of course Booker went on to become a presence on the national scene after this film.

    In 2012, in the city of Stockton, CA (the largest city up to that point to declare bankruptcy and a city with the reputation as a murder capitol) Michael Tubbs, a 22-year old black Stanford graduate, ran a similar campaign for the Stockton city council - representing the impoverished, mainly segregated 6th district. However, because all council members are elected in that city at large, he had to raise enough money to campaign throughout the entire city to beat the Republican incumbent.

    This stirring, fascinating documentary shows how a grass-roots political contest worked. But even more, it presented the possible appearance onto a larger political stage of a smart, personable young black politician with admirable ideals. I hadn't heard about this campaign, and I'm not going to venture a spoiler about the outcome of that 2012 election. But as a viewer I was intrigued and encouraged.

  • ★★★½ review by lantio on Letterboxd

    True Son tells the story of current city council member in Stockton, California Michael Tubbs and his political campaign leading up to his election. Tubbs is immediately an underdog, he is a black and 22 year old democrat running in a traditionally conservative city. I enjoyed True Son. I thought it was a well-done documentary. However, I always felt that we never really understood what Tubbs' political views were. He was always saying he was going to revitalize Stockton but how? It never really specified. Other than that though, True Son was a good film and it managed to get someone like me who has very little interest in politics to still enjoy it.

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