Thursday, October 29, 2009

By The People

Last year, if you lived here in the US it was impossible not to follow the news of the presidential elections. It did not matter what your political leanings were or if you did not even care about politics. The excitement (in the early days) and tension (toward to the end) around it was simply too palpable to ignore. After having seen and read so much about the subject of HBO's By The People - The Election of Barack Obama, it is a challenging proposition to tell the story in a way that is fresh, engaging and insightful.

The filmmakers Amy Rice and Alicia Sams manage to do all of that and much more with this film. The moments that made headline news are interspersed beautifully with candid interviews with volunteers, supporters, key players of the campaign team and family members of the then presidential candidate. News stories and analysis that viewers have seen before become imbued with fresh meaning and significance as the film reveals what went on behind the scenes even as headlines were being made. It is a moving experience to see so many people come together in their shared faith in the need for and the power of hope in politics.

The theme of "By The People" is explored along several dimensions. The passionate support of young people hungering for change and a different kind of governance and indeed America, the confusion in the minds of an older generation of Americans about the country's readiness for a black president and finally the powerful grassroots level outreach effort that brought the campaign its thousands of supporters from expected and unexpected quarters. A definitely must-watch movie.

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