"Immense and intimate. This movie can only inspire." - Variety Magazine
Do you need a Barack Obama fix? Now that we've had almost a year-and-a-half to settle into the, um, presidency of Donald Trump, it might be a good time to look back at the policies and accomplishments of his predecessor, Barack Obama. To my mind, there is no better way to do this than through the outstanding documentary film, The Final Year. Produced in 2017 and directed by Greg Barker, the film looks at the final year of the Obama presidency and gives a remarkable behind-the-scenes account of the workings and foreign policy goals of the Administration - and also those tasked with achieving such goals: Secretary of State, John Kerry, Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, and National Security Advisor, Susan Rice. The film is a how-to in accomplishing foreign policy directives and includes episodes on Syria, Libya, North Korea and climate change, including Samantha Power's famous lambasting of a U.N. Russian ambassador after the bombing of civilians in Syria, "What Russia has done is wrong. Is there nothing that can shame you?"
The Final Year is a compelling, emotional account of doing what's right, doing one's best, and maintaining the idealism of making the world a better, safer place. As Power says, "people need to be the center or our foreign policy thinking," and the humanism of the Administration is evident throughout the film. Perhaps one of the most telling and shocking episodes in the film is the November 2017 election of Donald Trump as President. The politicians that we have been following for nearly an hour through the challenges and trickeries of world politics are suddenly struck speechless, literally, by this earth-shattering event. But what the film finally accomplishes is the hope and idealism of world politics and that maybe, just maybe, American politics are the best way to achieve that. We will see, and hopefully as citizens, will inspire.
As former President Barack Obama says at the end, "history doesn't follow a straight line. It zigs and zags. But the trend lines will ultimately be towards a less violent, more empathetic, more generous world." And so we hope. Need a good dose of humanitarianism, hope, and idealism? Come see this film.
The Final Year plays Thursday, June 21st, 7 pm at the Center for the Arts and is generously sponsored by Bob Valentine and Steve Bolton.
$12 tickets sold at the door, in advance at the Center for the Arts, or online below.