Obama Dream

Movie review by
JK Sooja, Common Sense Media
Obama Dream Movie Poster Image
More fan travel film than docu; mature themes, language.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 79 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Whether some issues may be considered positive or negative is based on one's political views and values. Generally the film presents issues from a liberal perspective.

Positive Role Models

The filmmakers display a commendable eagerness to follow and document what they call a "revolution" in the "most racist country in the world" by trailing Obama's 2008 presidential campaign trail. Various politicians and journalists are shown positively and thoughtfully discuss various issues. Notably, the filmmakers capture Obama on film a handful of times, including parts of his acceptance speech as the Democratic Party's nominee for 44th president of the United States.


Some heated yelling between Republican and Democratic supporters across various states. One interview recounts the history of James Meredith, the first Black man to try to enroll at a segregated higher education institution (University of Mississippi) in 1962. Two people died and hundreds were wounded in the aftermath. A vet says he can never forget about seeing his best friend next to him with a bullet in his head. 


Some sexual comments made from McCain/Palin supporters questioning why Democrats "don't at least even want to see those boobies?" Other supporters argue against gay marriage by saying: "there's holes all over the body but I don't want to put my penis in them. Do you want to put your penis in this hole?" pointing to his ear while another points to his nose. When one of them eventually points to his mouth, the interviewer says, "well that hole I'd have no problem with filling."


"Sissy," "boobies," "penis."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Obama Dream is an Italian documentary that feels much more like a fan travel video blog rather than documentary. An Italian journalist and his cameraperson friend decide to follow Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign trail. Expect lots of candid and casual interviews with supporters, journalists, and campaigners. After Silvio Berlusconi is reelected Italian Prime Minister in 2008, Francesco Paravati feels all hope is lost in Italy, quits his job, and travels to America to follow what he calls "the revolution of Obama... in the most racist country in the world." Paravati travels state to state following the campaign, picking up parking tickets and staying in cheap motels. He captures rallies, protests, speeches, and interviews. Some language occurs during supporter interviews and statements, including, "penis," "sissy," and "boobies." No violence, but a few historically violent events are discussed. Lots of positions expressed on topics like abortion, gay marriage, and immigration.

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What's the story?

In OBAMA DREAM, two Italian men, one a journalist, the other a cameraperson, follow Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign trail. From state to state the filmmakers meet other supporters of both Obama and McCain and also show both sides' positions and arguments. Other journalists, campaigners, and academics are also interviewed.

Is it any good?

Be prepared for an entirely handheld-made documentary that feels more like a student project, fan film, or travel video blog than documentary. While there are some moments when an academic or journalist recounts a historically notable moment relevant to a particular political issue on display, mostly, Obama Dream is just a series of supporter interviews at various political functions and events. Some musical montages split these interviews up. Frankly, the film feels very casually made and slapped together. Some small technical issues also bring the experience down, like when there isn't consistency with how the film names or gives titles to some people on camera and not others. For example, Paravati notably grabs time with David Axelrod or Spike Lee, but then doesn't seem to realize who they are. While Axelrod received at least some text showing his name, Paravati never seems to acknowledge who Spike Lee is by adding text under Lee at some point, saying something like, "Spike Lee, filmmaker."

Despite these criticisms, the documentary does show the political and cultural landscape of the U.S. in 2008. It serves as a reminder of what our political and public discourses used to look like, even if still adversarial and antagonistic. It's a weird feeling to miss a country that looked like the one presented in Obama Dream circa 2008. Perhaps it was Obama's Republican opponent, the late John McCain, who said it best during one of his own campaign stops in Lakeville, Minnesota, when a woman presented him with the kind of vitriol and racism toward "the other side" so common throughout the U.S. political landscape in 2020. During that townhall style meeting, this woman told McCain that she didn't trust Obama because "he's an Arab." McCain took the microphone away from her, already in disagreement: "No ma'am, no ma'am, he's a decent family man. A citizen."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Obama Dream portrays both sides of the U.S. political system. Do you think the filmmakers portrayed both sides fairly? What side were the filmmakers on? How could they have presented their documentary differently to better account for opposing views?

  • How has the country changed politically since 2008?

  • How would the current highest elected public officials in power react to the kind of debates shown here?

  • What do you imagine the filmmakers doing after the Democratic National Convention? How might the filmmakers continue "the revolution," as they called it?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love politics

Themes & Topics

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