Obama Documentary: Edward Norton's Feature Bought by HBO

Nov 6, 2008–Edward Norton and his production company Class 5 Films announced today that HBO has acquired U.S. television rights to their as-yet-untitled documentary on the President-Elect Barack Obama, directed by Amy Rice and Alicia Sams. The film, which has had unprecedented and exclusive access to the Senator and his campaign, documents Obama's historic rise to become the first African American president of the United States, examining American politics and culture through the prism of his candidacy. A 2009 premiere date is to be determined.

Inspired by the freshman senator's dynamism, potential and star-making speech at the Democratic Convention in 2004, Rice initiated the idea of a documentary tracking his experience in politics in early 2006. Shortly thereafter, Class 5 agreed to produce the project and Sams joined to co-direct. Norton then approached Senator Obama and his staff months prior to his decision to run for President and outlined the idea. Senator Obama agreed to grant the team access and Rice and Sams began shooting shortly thereafter, including traveling with the Senator on his trip to Africa in summer of 2006.

When the Senator announced his bid for the presidency in 2007, Rice and Sams were there and over the last two and a half years have documented the race with unprecedented access to Obama, his senior campaign staff, family, friends, and volunteers. Shooting will continue through the inauguration in preparation for a 2009 premiere.

Sam Pollard, the award-winning editor of HBO's “When the Levees Broke” and “4 Little Girls” as well as “Eyes on the Prize” is editing the film. The film was financed by GOOD, Green Film Company, Citi Productions and Class 5 Films.

Notes Norton of the project: “Senator Obama's history-making race for the White House has given our film a perfect framework to explore the pulse of the country at this vital moment in our history. We believe this film will capture a tipping point in American history when a new generation of leadership emerged and old prejudices were finally vaulted over. We're thrilled that this film will be presented by HBO, which has long been one of the notable champions of the documentary film but, more importantly, offers us by far the best chance to share this film with the widest audience.”

Continues Rice and Sams: “It has been a unique experience chronicling the campaign as they shake up the political establishment during this fascinating time in American politics. Our travels with Senator Obama and time spent with his field staff have provided a unique vantage point from which to capture his engagement with the American public.”

“This is one of the most fascinating personal and political narratives in American history and we're thrilled to be a part of sharing it with our viewers,” said Richard Plepler, co-president, HBO.

Added Michael Lombardo, president, programming group and West Coast operations, HBO, “HBO, under the guidance of Sheila Nevins, has long been the home for the finest documentary programming. This film is another gem capturing a uniquely gifted man as he perseveres to the ultimate position.”

Rice co-directed the documentary “From Ashes” and has worked extensively as a cinematographer. Sams has produced many documentary films most recently the critically acclaimed theatrical doc “Toots.” The pair met in 2000, while working on a series of documentaries made in conjunction with the NYC public school system.

Class 5 Films credits include THE PAINTED VEIL, DOWN IN THE VALLEY, KEEPING THE FAITH AND LEAVES OF GRASS, now in production.