Entertainment

Steve Gow: The Final Year documentary stands out given Obama's shocking successor

Filmmaker Greg Barker admits humanizing policymakers reminds audiences that there are dedicated civil servants behind the spectacle that is Donald Trump.

The Final Year stands out given Barack Obama’s shocking successor and the new administration’s defiant reversal in direction, writes Steve Gow.

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The Final Year stands out given Barack Obama’s shocking successor and the new administration’s defiant reversal in direction, writes Steve Gow.

A lot can happen in a year. After all, just 12 months ago America was still technically under the leadership of Barack Obama in what many would now argue were halcyon days.

To director Greg Barker it “feels like 10,000 years” since Donald Trump took office and gave the filmmaker the closing scenes for his latest documentary The Final Year – an exclusive exposé overseeing key members of Obama’s administration as they shape policy for the last time.

“I didn’t want to make a policy film. That’s kind of boring,” recalled Barker of following such notable democrats as Secretary of State John Kerry, speechwriter Ben Rhodes and UN Ambassador Samantha Power in the White House. “I realized some facts are classified but emotions are not, so if I made the film about the emotions and the human drama at play, it would be more cinematic.”

The behind-the-curtain peek at the inner workings of government would be compelling at any point in history, but The Final Year stands out given Obama’s shocking successor and the new administration’s defiant reversal in direction. Indeed, the future of a Donald Trump presidency casts an ominous shadow upon every breakthrough moment of the movie.

“It will certainly have a resonance because people are going to counterpose what they see on the screen with the narrative of today,” said Barker. “My hope is that people get insight into how our government actually operates, and are also inspired to maybe get involved in whatever way meaningful to them.”

While Barker does stop short of describing The Final Year as a “protest film,” he does admit that the context of humanizing hardworking policymakers reminds audiences that there are still serious, dedicated civil servants behind the spectacle that is Donald Trump.

“You can certainly say this is what normal looks like; this is how diplomacy should operate — and frankly has operated — across administrations since the Second World War,” said Barker. “So is it radical or a protest film to simply show something that is so different from what we have right now? If it is, so be it.”

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