In October of 2002, Mark Wojahn set out, traveling alone via Amtrak, to interview the country. Using a straightforward, person-on-the-street interview format, and employing basic consumer electronics, he asked people from all walks of life "What do you think America needs?".
Over and over again, in more than 500 interviews, 10 different cities and dozens of different neighborhoods, people of different ages, genders, backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities deliver heartfelt prescriptions for the country's woes.
The filmmaker set out to ask America what America needs and was astonished to discover that all kinds of Americans instinctively understand many of the same essential truths. Truths that if held deeply by enough of us, could provide the basis for workable solutions. This is not to say that the solutions are easy, or that there aren't many disturbing, conflicting and contradictory answers delivered within the film. The film documents plenty of angry and disappointed voices, voices of confusion, disgust, cynicism and despair. But in general, these stand out in stark contrast to the more powerful voices of hope. In the end, the movie builds understanding between diverse viewpoints even as it underscores the importance of further dialogue.
In essence, the movie is a declaration for the democratic ideal and the democratic necessity of talking and really listening to what people have to say. It is a State-of-the-Union address by everyday people whose viewpoints are rarely sought or heard in conventional media.
"What America Needs" (WAN) is told in an 93 minute, chronological format that documents its filming through 10 U.S. cities. Throughout the movie the filmmaker serves as guide, briefly introducing the film and then transitioning the audience through subsequent locations using title cards, location markers and narration.
What America Needs: From Sea to Shining Sea - is the sequel to the award winning 1995 film -What America Needs: An Interior Expedition, - which Wojahn conceived and produced in conjunction with the progressive film co-op, the New Kinomatagraphic Union (NKU).