The Final Year is a riveting narrative that depicts how President Obama’s foreign policy team navigated their final year. The film was directed by Greg Barker and features exclusive interviews from former Secretary of State John Kerry, former United States ambassador Samantha Power and even former President Obama. The film is an eye-opener and gives its audience its very own press pass inside the white house as the foreign policy team travels through countries like Nigeria, Greece, and throughout United Kingdom. During a phone interview with The Knockturnal the director told us how he gained access, what it was like to interact with Trump’s employees and what he wants the audience to take from the film.
Keydra: Why did you choose to follow the foreign policy team specifically?
Barker: I was interested in seeing what it would be like the last year and it would show how the US interacts with the world and the humanity in government. It was like a band breaking up these people have been together for years.
Keydra: How long did it take you gain access to White House and what was that process like?
Barker: I had a feeling it would happen our first talks were early 2015. By mid-December, we were up and running. Plus I’m an optimist I knew it would happen then it was just about when and how.
Keydra: What were some of your fears when creating the film?
Barker: They made a conscious decision to let cameras around so when it came to vulnerable moments we tried not to be in the way. We were constantly pushing for better access. But we knew things would be classified and we knew it to be an emotional journey.
Keydra: The film ended on a high note when Obama said: “History doesn’t always go in a straight line, sometimes it zig-zags”. I thought it was interesting considering many people may not feel like that because of the current administration. Why did you end it that way?
Barker: I think because that’s how Obama was talking in his last weeks, that was the conversation he was having with his staff. I didn’t want to take people through an emotional scene because after the election it was a really dark scene and I wanted to bring people out of that and point a way forward. I thought it was worth it to end it on an up.
Keydra: What do you want the audience to know?
Barker: I hope they are energized by it and they want to do something. Ordinary people do these jobs and we are all ordinary people. You don’t have to be in the white house to affect change let’s think about what our country stands for and find ways in our own lives to make a difference. We have been previewing the film and I have people come to me and say I want to be in public service because I have seen this film. We live in a cynical time and I think the only way to get out of that is to be engaged and get involved.
Keydra: You finished the film at 3 AM, why was that?
Barker: That’s when the staff left their offices. We were some of the last people left. And as people were packing up and leaving Trump’s people were moving in. Watching them pack up and leave was actually inspiring because that’s how our government works. There were people there teaching Trump’s people how to answer phones and work with security, this is how we do this job. It was inspiring and interesting to watch.
The films open in theaters, On Demand, on iTunes and on Amazon Video January 19, 2018.