(Release Info London schedule; January 19th, 2018/Curzon Bloomsbury, 18:30)
"The Final Year"
"The Final Year" gives a look at the inner workings of the Obama administration as they prepare to establish a legacy when leaving power after eight years. The film revolves around Obama's foreign policy team; 'Secretary Of State' John Kerry, 'UN Ambassador' Samantha Power, 'Deputy National Security Adviser' and presidential confidant Ben Rhodes, as well as 'National Security Adviser' Susan Rice and President Obama himself. Over the course of 2016, they travel the world attempting to solidify and lock-in policies that they believe will define their legacy, promote diplomacy over large-scale military action, and fundamentally alter how the US government confronts questions of war and peace, as they prepare to hand over the machinery of American power to a new administration.
John Kerry served as 'Secretary Of State' from February 2013 until the end of the Obama administration. He previously was a Senator from Massachusetts and Chairman of 'The Senate Foreign Relations Committee'. Kerry first met Barack Obama in 2004, during Kerry's own presidential campaign, and chose Obama as the keynote speaker for his nominating convention. Kerry served in Vietnam as a 'Naval Officer'. Following his military service, Kerry became a prominent anti-war activist testified before 'The Senate Foreign Relations Committee' in 1971. Samantha Power served as 'US Ambassador' to 'The United Nations' from February 2013 until January 2017. During President Obama's first term, she worked in 'The White House' as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for 'Multilateral Affairs' and 'Human Rights' at 'The National Security Council'. Samantha Power emigrated from Ireland at age 9, and became a US citizen in 1993. After college, she was a journalist in Bosnia during wartime, and later wrote 'A Problem from Hell: America And The Age Of Genocide', which won 'The Pulitzer Prize'. Power met then-Senator Barack Obama in 2005, and worked on his first presidential campaign as a foreign policy advisor.
Ben Rhodes served in 'The White House' as 'Deputy National Security Advisor' for 'Strategic Communications' from 2009 until January 2017. Rhodes joined the Obama presidential campaign in 2007, and later became one of the president's closest aides. Rhodes was a creative writing student at NYU when he witnessed the 9/11 attacks. He moved to Washington and was hired by former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired both 'The Iraq Study Group' and 'The 9/11 Commission'. Rhodes helped draft 'The 9/11 Commission's' final report, which became a best-seller. Susan Rice served as 'National Security Advisor' from 2013 until January 2017. During President Obama's first term, she was Ambassador to 'The United Nations'. In 2004, Rice was a foreign policy adviser to John Kerry during his presidential campaign, when Kerry chose Barack Obama as the keynote speaker at his convention. In 2007, Rice was one of the first prominent foreign policy advisors to join Obama's own presidential bid. Rice had previously been a Senior Director at 'The National Security Council' during President Bill Clinton's first term, and was Assistant Secretary of 'State For African Affairs' during Clinton's second term.
"The Final Year" begins in late 2015 and continued to the early hours of the morning on January 20, 2017, the day of Trump's inauguration. Director Greg Barker filmed extensively throughout the year at 'The White House' and 'State Department' in Washington DC, 'The United Nations' in New York City, and in 21 countries, following US officials on their international travel. The film is shot on-the-fly, with minimal equipment, no lights, and the smallest possible crew at all times, which gives the documentary flexibility to be nimble and capture spontaneous moments. Simultaneously, the editing team in LA reviewed and assembled nearly 1,000 hours of footage.
Sept. 2015. Presidential visit to 'The United Nations General Assembly'.
Jan. 13-17, 2016. Vienna, Austria. 'Secretary Of State' John Kerry, on 'Implementation Day' for 'The Iran Nuclear Agreement'.
Apr 17-24, 2016. 'UN Ambassador' Samantha Power visits Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.
May 15-18, 2016. 'Secretary Of State' John Kerry attends Syrian peace negotiations in Vienna.
May 19-25, 2016. Presidential trip to Vietnam.
May 26-28, 2016. Presidential trip to Hiroshima, 'Potus' speech at 'Peace Memorial'
Jun 15-18, 2016. John Kerry visits Greenland to study climate change.
Jul 14-Jul 22, 2016. Ben Rhodes travels to Laos in advance of Presidential visit.
Sept 3-6, 2016. Barack Obama is the first US president to visit Laos.
Sept 18-24, 2016. 'United Nations General Assembly' meetings, attended by President Obama, John Kerry, Samantha Power and Ben Rhodes.
Nov 08, 2016. Election night.
Nov 13-16, 2016. 'Potus' visits Athens as part of his final overseas trip.
Jan 19th and 20th. John Kerry, Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power pack up and leave their offices. Filming wraps at 4am the morning of January 20th, hours before the inauguration.
At 4am on the morning of Donald Trump's inauguration, the film shows 'UN Ambassador' Samantha Power as she slowly removed her 7 year-old son's artwork from the walls of her office overlooking 1st Avenue. She fills a bankers box with all the drawings, and then carried it down into a waiting 'SUV' for what would be her last official ride as 'US Ambassador' to 'The United Nations'. Earlier that day Secretary John Kerry leaves 'The State Department' for the final time, and with speechwriter and presidential confidant Ben Rhodes in 'The White House' as he packs his own belongings, wistfully coming across his handwritten notes from a 2009 sit-down with Obama in 'The Oval Office' to talk through what the President wanted to say in his upcoming speech in Cairo. This is the end of an era, everyone feels it and the end of an epic 15-month film shoot that take us on a once-in-a-career journey inside the workings of our foreign policy machinery.
This is a story about a small group of people who came together nearly a decade ago, rallying behind a man and his cause. They set out to change the world, and against all expectations, found themselves in a position to affect that change. The believed they could redefine American foreign policy, promote diplomacy over large-scale military action, and alter how we as a nation think about questions of war and peace. They had their share of victories, the Iran deal, climate change, Cuba, and despite their own internal divisions over one of the toughest foreign policy questions of our age, at the outset of 2016 they believed they had largely succeeded, and that their legacy would define US foreign policy for decades to come. In retrospect, what the cameras captured is more than just high-ranking government officials at work, as fascinating and informative as that may be. The film captures a worldview, an attitude, an approach to international affairs that, we now know, is fleeting, unique to a particular moment. As anyone who has worked in government knows, behind the access, the crises of the moment, and the elusive but seductive sense of power, there's simply an enormous amount of hard, usually thankless work. Witnessing that up close, and seeing how dedicated our public servants are, is truly humbling and inspiring; honestly the greatest privilege of professional life.
"The Final Year" gives an unprecedented look at the shaping of US foreign policy by following key members of outgoing US President Barack Obama's administration. It's a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the last year of a presidency, in the spirit of the classic campaign film 'The War Room', only in reverse. Senior officials inside 'The US National Security Apparatus' are not used to having a documentary film crew hang around for months on end. It's a truly revealing film about the human dynamics and emotions at play inside the normally opaque world of US diplomacy. The film looks for strong personal narratives that illuminate the complexities and moral ambiguities of global politics and war. For "The Final Year" secures unprecedented access to 'The White House' and 'State Department', capturing the emotions and human dynamics behind American diplomacy at it's highest levels. This film is by far the most challenging, in terms of access, in terms of storytelling, and in terms of the sheer logistics involved when filming inside what's known as 'The Potus bubble', especially overseas. This film is controversial, the very nature of it's subject matter almost guarantees that, but the film goes beyond the politics of the moment, and helps foster a wider discussion about how America can and should relate to the wider world.