#TIFF20: “THE WAY I SEE IT”
By Mr. Will Wong
Pete Souza is the former Chief Official White House Photographer and is the fascinating subject of Dawn Porter‘s Documentary, THE WAY I SEE IT. While serving as a portrait of a Photographer who has witnessed many momumental things in his career, this Laura Dern-produced piece ultimately is a love letter to President Obama‘s legacy on America in these uncertain times.
The Film follows Sousa‘s career from President Reagan’s days in the White House. While he admits he wasn’t a fan of Reagan, he did manage to capture many tender moments between him and First Lady Nancy Reagan and it was these candid moments that he believes are some of his best work, humanizing him to America and he was invited back to capture Reagan‘s funeral.
Souza then in 2005 was tasked with photographing Barrack Obama‘s first year as Senator not knowing much about him. From his eyes, candid footage and his work, we get an intimate look at the eventual President told through various components of his life as a father, a husband and the leader of a nation, giving the public unprecedented access to the President through his work being uploaded to flickr. Despite being in a political profession, he never became serious about politics and social justice until his time with Obama. In this time, he sees time and again Obama‘s traits as a leader shine-through whether it be his personable handling of the Sandy Hook shootings or how he navigated the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The Photographer garnered much notoriety firing back at President Donald Trump on Instagram, using his own body of work to refute erroneous claims becoming material for his book SHADE: A TALE OF TWO PRESIDENTS which has led him on many speaking engagements, helping him fulfill a late-realized passion in politics.
Sometimes being the only person permitted in the room with President Obama, we learn how difficult some decisions were for him and how taxing emotionally some aspects of his presidency were. Obama even attended Souza‘s wedding too and we get first-hand accounts what it was like for LGBTQ White House staff after Obama expressed his support for Same-Sex marriage. Porter asking these intimate questions brings us that much closer to the story.
While the Film touches briefly upon some of the hatred Souza has received online, a little more insight into the opposition and maybe even more about Souza‘s opinions and why they align with Obama‘s, might have painted an even more complete photo of Souza‘s resilience.
Focus Features release THE WAY I SEE it in select cities including Toronto, Friday, September 18, 2020. You also can see it at TIFF ’20 as follows:
Fri, Sep 11
Online at Bell Digital Cinema
Streaming in Canada Available from: