Inside Obama's White House: The Arc of History

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President Obama with the House Democratic Caucus

Do not miss this exclusive opportunity to attend the preview of the final episode of the four-part Inside Obama's White House, the BBC Two series produced by the award-winning and highly acclaimed team from Brook Lapping documentary filmmakers, and then to discuss the series with key members of this team. Book tickets now

Listen (beginning at 24-28 minutes in)  to Norma Percy, Series Producer and Paul Mitchell discuss how they  generated the series and gained access to President Obama and  a 'dazzling array' of members of his administration.

As Barack Obama’s eight years as President draw towards their close, BBC Two and some twenty other broadcasters around the world have commissioned Inside Obama’s White House. The extraordinary challenges he had to overcome and the several occasions that he overruled his closest advisers are described in detail by those who worked in the White House.

This new four-part BBC 2 series which launches on 16 March comes from the Brook Lapping team which has produced multi award-winning documentary series, such as The Death  of Yugoslavia, Watergate and Iran and the West.

With unique access to President Obama’s inner circle, the series takes the viewer inside the room where the big decisions were made.

This fourth episode covers the hunt for Bin Laden, the campaign for re-election in 2012 and key domestic events and issues in that second term  - including Sandy Hook and guns, immigration reform, and race and criminal justice, including Ferguson and its aftermath.


The first three episodes deal with how Obama worked to stop an economic crisis from turning into a Great Depression, trying to close Guantanamo, prioritising the President’s dream of universal healthcare, how he could promote democracy as the Arab Spring engulfed  the Middle East, and how to deal with an Iran with nuclear capability.

From  Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, Bill Daley, Jim Messina, John Kerry, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, Kathleen Sebelius, Cecilia Muñoz, Phil Schiliro and many others we gain distinctive insights into the key events, issues  and decision-making process

In this critical election year, this event gives us the space to reflect upon the achievements of the Obama administration and the obstacles he faced.  


When his staff were discouraged by setbacks, Obama told them: "The arc of history is long and this is going to happen. What you did today is part of the journey that’s going to get us there."  This is a message that should also inspire us in our 2016 campaign!

From Episode 4: The Arc of History:  Obama bends the arc on guns and race 

"Even though I thought it was only 50-50 that Bin Laden was there, I think it’s worth us taking a shot." is how Obama' explained  to his top advisers his extraordinary gamble, sending US special forces into Abbottabad, Pakistan. It worked. Boosted by the slogan “Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive” the president sought re-election.  But his campaign nearly foundered when Sandra Fluke challenged the Catholic bishops – and Rush Limbaugh – on the issue of contraception.  Forced to make a choice that could lose him either the church or the women’s vote,  the President tells Health Secretary Sebelius: "Kathleen, I shouldn’t be fighting your battles." Obama chooses right, mobilising his coalition of women, gays, African American and first time voters - while Romney gets it wrong.   


Five weeks after the election, the Sandy Hook school massacre shook the nation. Obama called it  ‘the toughest day of my entire time in the presidency".  He tried to take on the gun lobby – and lost. In his second term, the President also wrestled with America's most intractable domestic policy issues: immigration and race relations.  Confronted by an obstructionist Republican Congress and running out of time, Obama was forced to do what he could with Executive Orders. When his staff were discouraged by setbacks, Obama told them: "The arc of history is long and this is going to happen. What you did today is part of the journey that’s going to get us there."

DAUK Film Night
Date: Thursday, March 24 , 2015
Time:  7:00 – 9:30  PM
Place   London School of Economics, Room CLM.6.02 , Clement House  99 Aldwych  WC2B 4JF

Map for the building


6:30 PM   Doors open
7:00 PM   Introduction and welcome -
7:05 PM    Inside Obama’s Whitehouse, Episode 4 – The Arc of History  (60  minutes) -
8:10 PM    Q and A with the Brook Lapping  team,  Norma Percy, Series Producer, Paul Mitchell, Executive Producer and Mick Gold, Producer/Director Episode 4.

9: 15        Discussion ends 

Take this opportunity to meet and discuss with some of the best political documentary filmmakers now working in the USA and UK.  

The Brook Lapping team

Norma Percy, Series Producer

New York-born Norma Percy has been series producer of all the Brook Lapping histories which the 1995 BBC policy statement described as ‘virtually a new genre of documentary’ that retells momentous events from the recent past with meticulous objectivity and with the principal actors recording what happened.

A Guardian editorial, In Praise of Norma Percy’ (February 2009) wrote: “Her documentaries stand out... most of all for the extraordinary range of people who agree to appear on them... Every significant international story seems to have its Percy film." The 2nd Russian Revolution followed the fall of the Soviet Union. The Death of Yugoslavia traced the causes and consequences of the Balkan wars [followed by The Fall of Milosevic]. Two series, Elusive Peace and The 50 Years War, looked at the Israeli-Arab conflict, and the peace process that, ultimately, never succeeded. While Endgame in Ireland analysed how a conflict was resolved. Recent series include Iran & the West; Putin Russia & the West and The Iraq War.

Paul Mitchell, Executive Producer

Born in Boston Mass, Paul Mitchell has lived in the UK for 25 years producing award-winning films for the BBC, UK Channel 4, PBS, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and France Télévision. He has been responsible with Norma Percy and the company’s founder, Brian Lapping, for many of Brook Lapping’s award winning histories including The Death of Yugoslavia (BBC/Discovery, 1995) which won 16 awards, including a BAFTA, and is listed as one of the British Film Institute’s top 100 greatest British television programs of any genre ever to have been screened. Others are The Second Russian Revolution, Watergate, Iran & the West, Putin Russia & the West and The Iraq War.  His most recent project Russia’s Open Book: Writing under Putin, on modern Russian fiction, broadcast on PBS last year.

He has also made programs as diverse as the award winning A Marriage of Power on the Clinton Presidency, The Alternative Rock & Roll Years about rock and roll in the USSR, and he was one of very few Western journalists to cover the frontline in the Chechen war with a PBS WideAngle: Greetings from Grozny (winner of the Edward R Murrow Award, the FIPA Prix de Jury de 15 ans, The Rory Peck Freelance Award). How Putin Came to Power was short listed for an international EMMY in 2003.

Mick Gold, Producer/Director – Episode 4: The Arc of History

Mick Gold was director of the Brook Lapping series Watergate, working alongside Norma Percy and Paul Mitchell, which won an Emmy and a DuPont Award. He was also a producer/director on the Brook Lapping series Endgame In Ireland (Peabody Award),Death of Apartheid( US title: Mandela's Fight For Freedom) The Reagan Legacy, and Hostage (about the hostage crisis in Lebanon from 1984 to 1991).

He has also produced a variety of arts documentaries including six films for the BBC2 series Private Life of a Masterpiece. He directed four films for the Channel 4 series Dispatches, presented by Andrew Rawnsley, on politics behind the scenes in Westminster. He was series producer/director of Blues America, a two part history of the blues, broadcast by BBC4 in 2013.

As a photographer and journalist, he covered rock music for Melody Maker, Let It Rock, Sounds, Time Out and Creem in the 1970s.



To watch the full series:
Episode 1:  Tuesday 15 March, 9pm, BBC2 – ‘100 Days’ (economic crisis, Gitmo and climate change)
Episode 2:  Tuesday 22 March, 9pm, BBC2 – ‘Obamacare’
Episode 3:  Tuesday 29 March, 9pm, BBC2 – ‘Don’t screw it up’ (Arab Spring and the Iran deal)
Episode 4:  Tuesday    5 April, 9pm, BBC2 – ‘The Arc of History’ (the second term)


What they are saying about the series

From the BBC Media Centre - on the first episode in the series

Press Association. "BBC2 gets White House access for Barack Obama documentary." The Guardian28 August 2015:  "BBC 2  has secured unprecedented access to Barack Obama’s White House for a new four-part series from acclaimed documentary maker, Norma Percy."


Booking tickets:  

In compliance with US campaign and party funding laws, we can only accept payments from US citizens and green card holders. Non-US citizens are very welcome to attend, but only as guests of US citizens who must book and pay for—as a gift—their guests' admission. By booking and paying for tickets for this event, you are confirming that you are a US citizen or green card holder. You must tick a box affirming this before completing your purchase.

This event is CLOSED to the press.


The screening of this film does not constitute an endorsement or promotion of the film, nor of any views expressed therein or any association with The Film Committee, DAUK, Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party. Screenings are solely conceived as educational activities: offering an opportunity for members to discuss issues.

Any  information provided here  is intended for educational use and offered as a public service. Any views expressed should not be understood as representing or reflecting  the views of Democrats Abroad UK, Democrats Abroad  or the Democratic Party of the United States. Links to other organizations or publications imply neither endorsement of their policies nor any association with the Democratic Party or Democrats Abroad - UK.