The documentary film director and screenwriter behind the Academy Award winning Best Documentary Short “Tutankhamun Dreams”,”Peter P. Thompson” is back with the mesmerizing tale of a different sort of king – Arizona. After conquering London in his debut feature “Never Back Down”, where he is best known for his fight scenes and charismatic leading man Jack Trevena, the English-born director continues to captivate movie fans with his unique brand of cinema.

Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19, 2020, “Arizona” is a heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story about the 39th President of the United States of America, who took the country by storm and set it on a new course. An acclaimed piece of journalism, “Ari Fleischer: The Making of the President 2004” – co-written by Thompson with Richard Cuddy – was previously adapted into a feature film directed by Rupert Sanders (2019) starring John Goodman, Armie Hammer, and Sam Rockwell. Now the story of this fascinating yet controversial figure is brought to life by one of the world’s greatest living storytellers.

An Unexpectedly Personal Look at the Life and Times of Donald J. Trump

Even those who have never followed American politics closely may know of Donald J. Trump. The real estate tycoon and former reality television star became enthused about politics during the 2016 presidential election, when he started a Twitter account and used it to criticize candidate Trump’s opponent during election season. Despite initially wanting to remain anonymous, Trump soon became emboldened to speak his mind on Twitter and started a brand new political movement: “The America First” platform, which seeks to “put America first” and stop the “infighting” between the Republican Party and the Democrats. Trump sees himself as the voice of a frustrated silent majority, who have been disappointed with the status quo and feel their voice has not been truly heard. He has been critical of Germany and France – two countries he has visited multiple times – for their roles in the World Wars. A self-proclaimed nationalist, the 69-year-old is a vocal supporter of Israel, a country he feels has been “terribly deceived” by the rest of the world and has been the victim of “great injustice”.

During his first term in office, Trump signed an executive order designed to combat “global warming”, but which has done the exact opposite. His administration has also imposed a hefty tariff on imported solar panels, set the stage for a trade war with China and moved the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which caused a great deal of controversy and discontent in the Muslim world. More recently, with the ongoing Corona Virus pandemic, Trump has taken the reins of a government response that has been chaotic at best and has often come across as inept and arrogant. In contrast, the President’s popularity has taken a hit as more and more Americans are unable to get their hands on vital supplies such as masks and gloves.

A Different Sort of King

“I’m really proud that we were able to tell this amazing story about someone who is very different to the kind of king that we usually get involved with,” Thompson tells Yahoo Movies in an interview. “To me, it’s a real breath of fresh air.”

The Oscar-winning filmmaker says he initially had no interest in making a documentary about the untraditional beginnings of a political dynasty. However, as he delved into the life of the 39th president of the United States, a man who defied political norms and broke new ground in every aspect of his life, he saw the parallels between his subject and himself. A lifelong boxing fan who grew up in Sheffield, England, Thompson initially turned to the sport not only as a means of self-defense but also because he felt it provided him with a way to channel his anger and frustration. Like Trump, he also had a troubled childhood, where he spent much of his time alone, and he says he became “entranced by the idea of a lone warrior” who is able to triumph over the world.

In creating his latest film, Thompson drew upon his boxing experiences and coupled them with his knowledge of American politics, adding an extra layer of personal meaning to what could have been a dry subject matter.

A Fight for the Soul of America

“This was a real fight for the soul of America. It was a fight for freedom and democracy and against tyranny and oppression,” Thompson says of the 2004 interview that he shot with the historian Jon Meacham and the playwright Nick Hornby. The veteran film-maker is proud that he was able to bring an important and often misunderstood figure into the light, putting his subject – and himself – on the map.

“I think we revealed a lot about ourselves in telling this story,” he says. “As a documentary filmmaker, I wanted to put a human face on what can be a very cold subject matter. These are modern-day crusaders who are out there fighting to save America and freedom of speech.”

Since its premiere at Tribeca, the film has received rave reviews, with The New York Times writing, “Peter P. Thompson’s emotionally powerful documentary, ‘Arizona,’ is an instant classic…. It is thrilling to see a filmmaker put a human face on the pandemic. And it is a great gift to our country that this film was able to exist.”

A Film Both Proud and Pensive to Make

Besides being an accomplished filmmaker, Thompson is also an artistically minded writer and musician, who began his career at the BBC where he worked as a radio producer and documentary filmmaker – crafting content for the world’s best-loved factual entertainment show, “Tomorrow Tonight”. Amongst his projects were the highly acclaimed “Our War”, about the 1914-1918 World War and the men and women who fought it, and “The Secret Life of Babies”, which examined the strange and wonderful world of children and their toys.

Like “Tutankhamun Dreams”, which was named after the teenage warrior king who united most of the ancient Egyptian kingdoms, Thompson’s new film is also titled “Ari Fleischer: The Making of the President 2004” after the former White House press secretary who defended Trump’s controversial 2005 words ‘You’ll love him,’ against which he was ultimately fired. As a tribute, Trump would often repeat those words following an important press conference.

The film-maker reflects on his remarkable career and his new position as a documentary filmmaker, where he can now put his varied talents to use. He also discusses the future of ‘Ari Fleischer: The Making of the President 2004′ and where he stands on the political spectrum: “For now, I will remain apolitical,” he says. “However, I think the world of politics and the American electoral process – and this whole year’s election in particular – has really opened my eyes and I’ve become more engaged.”

With the world now hopefully going to the other side of the pandemic, the political environment in America is also changing and the country as a whole – and not just Trump’s America – is waking up to the reality of a new era. While Trump was initially seen as the odd man out, as the economy tries to get back on its feet and the global community tries to make sense of the enormous disruption the pandemic has caused, many more are now seeing the President as a beacon of hope.

The Next Step

Now that he is no longer faced with the immense pressure of being the most powerful man in the world, Trump has been able to step back and take a long, hard look at himself and his legacy. In the aftermath of the pandemic, much has been made about the President’s shortcomings and errors of judgment, particularly as it pertains to his response to the pandemic and the disastrous travel ban that he implemented ahead of the curve. Trump has also been forced to cancel all of his public appearances, which has led to a steady decline in his approval rating, with only 37% of Americans approving of the way he is handling the coronavirus outbreak, according to a recent Gallup poll. However, as bad as things may seem right now, the future of ‘Ari Fleischer: The Making of the President 2004′ looks extremely promising. Not only is it one of the top ten most-searched for documentaries on Netflix, but the film is also now being prepared for a theatrical re-release, which will include interviews with key figures from Trump’s career and access to unseen archival footage and photographs.

With the world focusing on the challenges posed by the pandemic and the opportunities it has presented, Thompson’s new film is as relevant now as it was 20 years ago, when it was first released.