The inimitable pastel blue and pink marquee of the Tropic shines again with gusto, showing Dawn Porter’s “The Way I See it” a documentary about photographer Pete Souza’s journey from White House chronicler to activist.
Ever since Souza was young, he admired The White House and the Kennedy presidency within. Souza was inspired in particular with the intimacy of LBJ’s photographs.
He wanted to top the photographs he saw but also he wanted to simply document history.
At twenty, he got the job of White House photographer under Reagan. He attempted to record Ron and Nancy in personal settings with kids and in the bedroom, either playing or getting ready to turn in. One notable photo features Reagan with a chainsaw.
After a two-decade break, Souza saw Obama at the 2004 DNC convention. He photographed the senator on tour in Africa. Then Obama ran and became elected president. Souza recorded Obama constantly, tense, worried, laughing and at ease. In one photo a very young kid is touching his hair. Obama emerged not only as a candid subject, but also Souza’s friend.
This film is immersive, playful, cautionary and contemplative.
Things changed when Trump came in office, a bit as if a horrid beast had ransacked the White House. Souza published Shade, photographic pointed responses to Trump’s tweets. The photographer became the protester.
The images in the film are stunning testaments to Obama as a man of deep thought, empathy, self-deprecation, and kind action.
Such imagery is in stark opposition to Trump. The contrast is jarring and may well bring one to tears.
“The Way I See It” is an affectionate yet provocative documentary that causes one to be mindful of the Trump Era and to get out and vote.
As I watched Obama, I saw the kindness, joy and the devotion to family and presidential service within.
The film is a time capsule, an era of empathy untouched by the two viruses (one of Trumpian hate, the other of Covid-19) and in watching the warmth of Obama, you will cheer with tears, as I did. There is no better place than the Tropic to see such a compassionate and lively film. Nestled once again in the dark theater with my chair as ship, floating in the light of Obama-Space, I was contentedly docked inside my home satellite, rolling, spinning, and eagerly awaiting more.
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