After leaving the White House, Michelle Obama toured various capitals of the world to present her memoirs; behind her was always Nadia Hallgren, who has just released a documentary on how the former first lady managed to fill stadiums "as if she were a rock star".
"They explained to me that I would follow Michelle on a tour to present her book and I thought 'ah, well, fine', but they alerted me that it would be a 'tour' that had never been done before," Hallgren explained in an interview with Efe. , one of the few awarded on this project, launched by surprise, in which he worked for two years in secret.
"Becoming" is the title of the book in which Michelle tells her personal story and also that of the Netflix tape for which her director mixed with secret service agents with the aim of closely following the Obama family in their first months away from the presidential residence.
"It was a special opportunity, no one had had the opportunity to have this intimacy, there were times when I got in his car, where only secret service agents can travel, to talk to Michelle (...) I was also with her family in private moments, "Hallgren recalled.
But what most impressed the director was to see how entire stadiums hung the entire poster with more than 17,000 attendees interested, simply, in listening to the former American first lady.
"There was a special energy," describes the filmmaker about the inaugural event in Michelle's hometown of Chicago.
FROM THE HUMBLE NEIGHBORHOODS OF CHICAGO TO THE WHITE HOUSE
At the beginning of the film Michelle condenses her life story with a forceful phrase: "I'm from the South Side of Chicago. That tells you everything you need to know about me."
Those origins, in a neighborhood where a large number of working-class African-American families reside, are very present in the life of Michelle Robinson Obama, a lawyer by profession who became the first African-American woman to occupy the White House.
As she herself recalls, her journey was not easy and she had to face criticism in which some said that she had "very high" and unrealistic goals for her condition.
"What Michelle is doing is being a living example of what happens when you ignore those voices and follow your dream. After meeting her, I found that she is a very brave woman," admits Hallgren.
When Michelle entered college, the mother of one of her roommates asked her daughter to change rooms because she didn't want a black roommate, the tape recalls.
"She wanted people to know the most difficult things in her life," said its director.
From that episode on, the protagonist, then a law student, was more aware of her identity.
Therefore, after each massive event, Michelle decided to meet with small groups of students, mostly women, to meet their concerns and share their experiences in conversations that Hallgren's camera captured.
According to the filmmaker, "young women connected with the former first lady" and ventured to tell her concerns as personal as her family problems or the fear of "being invisible" in American society, as diverse and segregated.
"I also went to record at the house where he grew up. It is practically intact, in his room his doll follows," says Hallgren, "(...) Visiting his neighborhood makes one imagine the experiences that he lived, and also Barack Obama - then a fellow Michelle- lived there with her when they were a couple. "
A TOUR THAT REINVENTED THE WAY TO PRESENT A BOOK
When Michelle published her memoirs, the publisher set up a presentation tour in ten cities.
The initial approach consisted of intimate conversations moderated by personalities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Oprah Winfrey, but the demand overflowed, and it had to expand the capacity and add twenty more locations, even outside the United States.
During the tour, Michelle traveled sometimes alone, others accompanied by her mother and brother or Barack Obama and her daughters, but Hallgren became her shadow to document it and learn in depth the personal story of a woman who made history by sitting in the most powerful circles in the world, from the south side of Chicago.
And even so "she let me make the movie that I wanted to do," said the director.