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Guetty Felin & Hervé Cohen
2008
Color
102 minutes
US
English
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Closer to the Dream (Long Version)

An electoral road movie about Barack Obama and the movement that united Americans across party, racial and ethnic lines. In 2008 Haitian-American filmmaker Guetty Felin, her husband, French filmmaker Hervé Cohen and their two biracial sons embark on a journey to witness the historical grassroots movement that elected the first US Black president. Shot in verité style, the film introduces us to the new face of America, ready to mark a new chapter in the nation's history.

Reviews
“A compelling and necessary film, where the President’s passion and voice count as much as those who elected him.”
- Edwidge Danticat, Haitian-American Novelist

"An engaging and particularly well-crafted documentary"
- Le Monde

"A personal road-documentary painting an impressionist portrait of Obama's America."
- Le Nouvel Observateur

"In the tradition of Robert Drew's classic and groundbreaking documentary PRIMARY, Guetty Felin and Hervé Cohen's CLOSER TO THE DREAM examines the excitement, optimism, and difficulties of a presidential campaign. Part road film, part political documentary, part coming of age family film, CLOSER TO THE DREAM operates like a time capsule preserving an electrifying moment in history as Barack Obama campaigned to become the 44th president of the United States. Bringing an international perspective, Felin, a New York-raised, Haitian-American, ex-pat filmmaker, and Cohen, a French documentarian and cinematographer, along with their son's Yeelen and Joakim, immersed themselves within the campaign and chronicled their shared experiences in this compelling film. The juxtaposition of their insider role within the campaign trail and outsider role as international citizens, Felin and Cohen provide a unique perspective on American politics. Traveling through the 2008 primaries, the journey began when the team flew from Paris to Houston, CLOSER TO THE DREAM says as much about its makers as the nation they are exploring. The film encapsulates the American dream through a cross-section of the nations political and social landscapes with a myriad of interviews ranging from a Congresswoman, lawyer, nurse, poet, punk rocker, environmentalist, rabbi, and gay activist, to name a few. What comes out of these encounters, spliced with sequences of Senator Obama at rallies and interacting with his constituents, is a fresh view of a changing America. Striking a perfect balance of the political and the personal, CLOSER TO THE DREAM shows a nation and a family on the cusp of a dream. Whether this “dream” is to be fully realized remains to be seen, but CLOSER TO THE DREAM provides a fascinating view of its genesis."
- Trae DeLellis, University of Miami, Bill Cosford Cinema

"Haitian American filmmaker Guetty Felin, her French filmmaker husband, and their two adolescent sons are so moved by presidential candidate Barack Obama’s message of national unity that the family returns to the U.S. to become involved in the campaign. They pound the pavement, pass out leaflets, make posters, and register new voters, all the time spreading a message of hope and change. Filmed in cinema verité style, this film documents the road to victory. Felin narrates the adventure as the family journeys throughout the country. At each location, the camera captures the enthusiasm and elation echoed by Obama supporters (including ex-cons, campaign workers, politicians, blue-collar workers, T-shirt hawkers, college students, street musicians, and others) representative of various ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. An up-front and personal look at the grassroots movement that propelled Obama’s election as the first black president."
- Carol Holzberg, Booklist


Screenings
  • Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, 2010

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