The Film · Filmmakers · Background

Directed by Ari Vena, Chris Talbott
Produced by Ian Rosenberg, Chris Talbott
Feature Running Time: 80 minutes
Rating: Unrated


Once a year, prom mania grips the entire population of Racine, Wisconsin. The city's extravagant celebration begins with a rowdy parade where students compete for the most outrageous form of transportation, driving fire engines, 18-wheelers, even riding elephant-back through the city streets. Prom-goers from seven city high schools converge on one citywide prom to make red carpet entrances bombarded by the flash of cameras and screams from bleachers filled to capacity. Meanwhile, in sports bars and living rooms across the city, residents keep their eyes glued to the live television coverage of the spectacular event. If the Academy Awards were moved to the heartland, this is what it would resemble.

The stars of THE WORLD'S BEST PROM are the prom-obsessed residents of Racine, and in particular, two very different girls and one boy who provide an all-access pass to the days and nights leading up to their unbelievable prom night. Tonya Witherspoon is a black over-achiever from Racine's inner city who dreams of leaving Racine and becoming a forensic pathologist. She is attending prom with her ex-boyfriend and one true love. She has never worn make up until prom night, making her Cinderella transformation all the more astounding.

Dori Sorensen is a white Catholic school student eager to break free from convention. With humor and dramatic spirit, Dori provides an insider's tour of teen life in Racine. Ben Adrian is a quarterback cheered on to graduation, by the skin of his teeth, by his drop out brother and single mom. They all inch closer to adulthood during these emotionally charged days and nights. A revealing epilogue catches up with Tonya, Dori, Ben and six more of the film's teenage subjects four years later, allowing us to see whose hopes and dreams are coming true, and whether prom is still the greatest night of their lives.

As featured on "This American Life" and "ABC News Now," THE WORLD'S BEST PROM brings to life an American rite of passage taken to the extreme. With five decades of archival footage, and interviews with prom-goers of all ages, the film glories in the excess of an otherwise simple Midwestern city's quirky, Dionysian side. This celebratory film is for anyone who has ever wished they could relive prom night.

THE WORLD'S BEST PROM could not have been made without the fiscal support of Susan Sarandon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Maya Rudolph and many others.

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