iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Bill Mann

Bill Mann

Posted: November 1, 2009 07:14 PM

HBO's Revealing Obama Film Goes Behind Campaign Scenes

What's Your Reaction?

If you need a rejuvenating Barack Obama fix to lift your spirits and remind you why you voted for the President, don't miss an insightful new cable documentary premiering Tuesday -- almost exactly a year after Obama's election.

By the People: The Election of Barack Obama, airing Tuesday on HBO at 9 (repeated all month) is full of never-before-seen footage behind the scenes during the Illinois U.S. Senator's improbable run for the White House.

After having previewed this upbeat and interesting doc, I give a lot of credit to filmmakers Amy Rice and Alicia Sams for producing a film that captures the elusive - the spirit and passion of the young Obama volunteers who added much of the energy to the campaign of the high-energy Obama.

One scene shows a 9-year-old boy making calls for Obama in Iowa - and his face clearly registering frustration when the person he's calling doesn't know Obama's name.

Throughout the film, we follow Iowa organizer Ronnie Cho, who jumped on the Barack bandwagon in Iowa and works for the candidate across the country, calling his Mom regularly.

Michelle Obama talks candidly about the tough family decisions that had to be made before she signed off on the long-shot campaign. The Obamas are seen here as a tight-knit family that remains close even with a whirlwind of activity around them.

Even on the rare occasion when he loses a primary, Obama never seems downbeat during the grueling campaign. In one scene, he calls Hillary Clinton the night she pulls a surpise in New Hampshire, to congratulate her. He didn't have to do that.

The New Hampshire primary loss could have deflated Obama's balloon, which was soaring after his shocking win in Iowa a few days before. But every primary loss (and there weren't many) seems to stiffen Obama's resolve. He seems unflappable here. That 200-watt smile didn't hurt, either.

Other cool heads featured prominently are campaign strategist David Axelrod, campaign manager David Plouffe, and press manager Robert Gibbs, who all seem to possess the tranquil nature of their boss. Even when Axelrod concedes a race might go against Obama, he says it matter-of-factly.

Rice and Sams' film underscores why he's called "no-drama Obama." This also goes for his staff -- not his high-spirited army of young volunteers.

At the conclusion, Rice and Sams' cameras follow Plouffe and Axelrod as they make their way across a plaza toward Obama's hotel suite on election night. As they reach the door, a phone call comes in from a prime minister (we're not told which one) wanting to congratulate the President-elect, and the leader is politely told Obama is busy.

Grace under unimaginable pressure is what one sees here. It's amazing that this was the first Presidential campaign for most of Obama's people.

By The People: The Election of Barack Obama could be a textbook on how to run a campaign. It shows a handful of composed, highly focused people at the top successfully harnessing a high-energy youthquake/campaign, calmly keeping it on track.. This well-made doc, which started filming before Obama even announced his candidacy, will also bring back some pleasant feelings from last year -- when these brash outsiders re-took the White House.

Follow Bill Mann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/newsmann