Obamas make their Hollywood movie debut with `American Factory`

Brenda Watkins
August 22, 2019

The American Factory, an eye-opening documentary is a part of Barak Obama's and Michelle Obama's first massive Netflix Deal. "It can help you find common ground".

American Factory - a documentary about an OH vehicle glass factory run by a Chinese investor - was shown at the Sundance film festival an piqued the interest of the former U.S. president and his wife.

In 2014, Fuyao, a Chinese leading manufacturer of automotive glass, acquired a former facility of General Motors in Dayton, Ohio, which was shut down amid the 2008 financial crisis, and turned the venue into the largest single-sale glass manufacturing facility in the world with a total investment of over 600 million US dollars.

The movie, which bowed to uniformly rave reviews at Sundance earlier this year, is also - it will probably be noted ad nauseum - the first film collaboration from Barack and Michelle Obama's new production company Higher Ground. Although the community initially greets the new ownership and its promise of thousands of new jobs with excitement, differences in work culture and business practices between American and Chinese workers quickly emerge. The Americans at the plant question what they see as Chinese workers unquestioned devotion to a company that robs them of time to enjoy life.

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"Whether that's in a documentary like yours or if it's a scripted story that helps people understand something they didn't understand before, we want to see if we can give voice to that".

In one of the last scenes, an employee gives Cao a tour of the factory floor and boasts about how automation provides Fuyao with the opportunity to fire workers. American Factory doesn't come in with a perspective; it's not an editorial.

"That was my background, that was my father", she said. Called "American Factory", it explores what befell workers of an Ohio General Motors plant that closed following the 2008 financial crisis and was later bought by a Chinese company.

Mrs. Obama tells Reichert and Bognar, "One of the many things I love about this film, this project that you two did together, is that you let people tell their own story".

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