By Brian Brooks | Indiewire April 8, 2009 at 5:47AM
Amy Rice & Alicia Sams' documentary about the new U.S. President, "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama" (working title), has secured an international deal with Sony. All international media rights and domestic home entertainment rights (minus U.K. television) have been acquired by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisition Group (SPWAG), Steve Bersch, president, SPWAG and Keith Le Goy, president, International Distribution, Sony Pictures Television announced Wednesday.
Produced by Edward Norton's Class 5 Films and directed by Rice and Sams, the film will be released in the U.S. by HBO Documentary Films. The company is planning to debut the just finished doc sometime this year, but has yet to detail theatrical and television release plans.
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.
Sony Pictures Television is handling sales for TV (outside the U.S. and U.K.), mobile and new media. GOOD, Green Film Company, Citi Productions and Class 5 Films financed the film. Andrew Hurwitz negotitated the deal with Endeavor on behalf of the filmmakers.
"This remarkable film gives us a unique behind-the-scenes look at a truly transformative event. The filmmakers have done a beautiful job of creating a compelling narrative, and we are proud to be able to make the film available to the global market," commented Steve Bersch, President, SPWAG in a statement.
"Obama's election was, clearly, a global event which people all over the world felt deeply about on both political and emotional levels. From the start, it was very important to us to share this film with as broad an international audience as possible and we're really thrilled to be partnered with Sony in trying to achieve this because no company has more experience or reach in both the world markets and home video," added producer Edward Norton in a statement.
HBO's Richard Plepler called it "one of the most fascinating personal and political narratives in American history," in a statement published in indieWIRE in an earlier story about HBO's involvement with the film. 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."