As the United States transitions from one presidency to the next, and a nation examines issues of diversity and acceptance, the Netflix original film Barry resonates. On December 16, 2016, millions of members in 190 countries around the globe will have a chance to enjoy this powerful artistic exploration of a pivotal year in the life of the future 44th President of the United States, during which he developed the foundations for his views on race, government, and what it means to be American.
A young Barack Obama, known to his friends as “Barry,” arrives in New York City in the fall of 1981 to begin his junior year at Columbia University. In a crime-ridden and racially charged environment, Barry finds himself pulled between various social spheres and struggles to maintain a series of increasingly strained relationships with his Kansas-born mother, his estranged Kenyan father, and his classmates. Barry is the story of a young man grappling with those same issues that his country, and arguably the world, are still coming to terms with 35 years later.
Filmmaker Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré, HBO’s “Vice”), a Columbia University alumni, was inspired to tell the story of Barack Obama’s time at the university to write the story and direct this narrative feature. Gandhi approached fellow alum Adam Mansbach (author of “Go the F**k to Sleep”) to help tell that story, and from that collaboration Mansbach penned the script. Barry stars newcomer Devon Terrell in a deeply felt breakout performance as the young student, and features a strong supporting cast including Ashley Judd (Divergent, Double Jeopardy), Jenna Elfman (Friends With Benefits, Big Stone Gap), and up-and-comers Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), and Avi Nash (Learning to Drive, “Silicon Valley”).
Barry was produced by Black Bear Pictures and Cinetic Media. Dana O’Keefe, Teddy Schwarzman, Ben Stillman, and Vikram Gandhi produced the film. Daniel Steinman executive produced.