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by Eugene Hernandez
November 7, 2008 12:39 AM
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HBO Scores Obama Doc

President Elect Barack Obama at a rally in New Jersey in February. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE.

Amy Rice and Alicia Sams' untitled documentary about U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has been acquired by HBO. Produced by Edward Norton and his company Class 5 Films, Stuart Blumberg and Bill Migliore, the film was made with unique, exclusive access to Obama even before he began his historic campaign for President.

"Senator Obama's history-making race for the White House has given our film a perfect framework to explore the pulse of the country at this vital moment in our history," Norton said in a statement. "We believe this film will capture a tipping point in American history when a new generation of leadership emerged and old prejudices were finally vaulted over. We're thrilled that this film will be presented by HBO, which has long been one of the notable champions of the documentary film but, more importantly, offers us by far the best chance to share this film with the widest audience."

Edited by Sam Pollard, the film will remain in production through Inauguration Day ahead of an undetermined 2009 premiere.

In the words of the announcement today, with unprecedented and exclusive access Obama's presidential campaign, the film documents his, "historic rise to become the first African American president of the United States, examining American politics and culture through the prism of his candidacy."

Two and a half years in the making, the project was inspired by Barack Obama's now famous keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Shooting began prior to his run for President of the United States after Rice was moved to track the Senator following his DNC speech. Class 5 took on the project, Sams joined the team and Norton approached Obama and his staff months before Obama's decided to run. After securing inside access, the filmmakers traveled with Obama to Africa in the summer of '06 and were there when he announced his candidacy in early '07. The film includes access to President-elect Obama, his senior staff, family, friends, and campaign volunteers.

While HBO made a low seven-figure deal for the documentary, theatrical rights to the film are still available.

"It has been a unique experience chronicling the campaign as they shake up the political establishment during this fascinating time in American politics," Rice and Sams said in a statement. "Our travels with Senator Obama and time spent with his field staff have provided a unique vantage point from which to capture his engagement with the American public."

GOOD, Green Film Company, Citi Productions and Class 5 Films financed the movie. Endeavor Independent head Graham Taylor and attorney Andrew Hurwitz are handling worldwide rights. Endeavor Independent and Andrew Hurwitz, repping the filmmakers, negotiated the deal with HBO.

HBO's Richard Plepler called it "one of the most fascinating personal and political narratives in American history," in a statement, while exec Michael Lombardo added, "HBO, under the guidance of Sheila Nevins, has long been the home for the finest documentary programming.  This film is another gem capturing a uniquely gifted man as he perseveres to the ultimate position."

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1 Comment

  • genartjeff | November 7, 2008 1:50 AMReply

    I've had the pleasure of knowing Amy Rice since our days at NYU together. She has always been one of the most generous, warm, creative people I've known (Oklahoma seems to breed this type). I've seen her go from still photographer, to DP to documentary director. And after she and her brother Andrew (who just put up a strong fight to become US Senator from OKlahoma) lost their other brother David on 9/11 they have dedicated themselves not to anger and war but to restoring pride in our country and promoting positive change through politics and art. She's been working on this doc for years and while i'm super excited to see this film - I'm even more excited to see what she will dedicate herself to next. - Jeff