Netflix has set its latest documentary project from Barack and Michelle Obama – a film about the former First Lady on nationwide memoir tour.
Becoming, which is directed by Nadia Hallgren, will take viewers behind the scenes as Michelle Obama travelled to 34 cities on the tour for her book. It will be released on May 6.
It is the latest film since the former President and his wife signed a landmark deal with the streaming service in 2018. The pair, who run Higher Ground Productions, were involved in Crip Camp, the Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht-directed film about a summer camp for teens with disabilities. Their first film, American Factory, won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.
Elsewhere, Higher Ground, which is run by Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis, recently boarded Exit West, Joe and Anthony Russo’s AGBO production of Mohsin Hamid’s bestseller starring Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘s Riz Ahmed.
Becoming was published in 2018 by Crown and quickly became the biggest selling book of the year.
The film is directed by Nadia Hallgren, a filmmaker and cinematographer from the Bronx. She is best known as the DP on Oscar-nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winner Trouble the Water and CNN’s When We Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World as well as Motherland, a detailed depiction of a Manila maternity ward with director Ramona Diaz, and has worked on films including Fahrenheit 9/11, Searching for Sugarman and The Hunting Ground.
“Those months I spent traveling — meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe — drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can’t be messed with. In groups large and small, young and old, unique and united, we came together and shared stories, filling those spaces with our joys, worries, and dreams. We processed the past and imagined a better future. In talking about the idea of ‘becoming,’ many of us dared to say our hopes out loud,” said Michelle Obama. “I treasure the memories and that sense of connection now more than ever, as we struggle together to weather this pandemic, as we care for our loved ones, tend to our communities, and try to keep up with work and school while coping with huge amounts of loss, confusion, and uncertainty.”
She praised Hallgreen and said viewers would find “respite” in the film. “Because she’s a rare talent, someone whose intelligence and compassion for others comes through in every frame she shoots. Most importantly, she understands the meaning of community, the power of community, and her work is magically able to depict it,” she added.
Obama admitted that in the current times it’s hard to “feel grounded or hopeful”, and said as a “hugger”, it’s difficult to say “I’m here for you”.
“Even as we can no longer safely gather or feed off the energy of groups, even as many of us are living with grief, loneliness, and fear, we need to stay open and able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Empathy is our lifeline here. It’s what will get us to the other side. Let’s use it to redirect our attention toward what matters most, reconsider our priorities, and find ways to better remake the world in the image of our hopes,” she said. “Even in hard times, maybe especially in hard times, our stories help cement our values and strengthen our connections. Sharing them shows us the way forward. I love and miss you all.”
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