Obamas’ Production Company Wins First Oscar With ‘American Factory’
“American Factory”, the documentary co-produced by Barack and Michelle Obama snagged an Oscar on Sunday for best documentary — giving Netflix a win, in a night dominated by South Korean film, Parasites.
The documentary is the story of a manufacturing plant in the US Midwest reopened by a Chinese billionaire. It charts a Rust Belt community’s journey from optimism at the giant plant’s reopening, which brought back vital jobs, towards creeping anger and disillusionment, as the Chinese management imposed strict, exhausting demands on workers — and sacked those who did not comply.
“Our film is from Ohio and China,” director Julia Reichert said. “But it really could be from anywhere that people put on a uniform, punch a clock, trying to make their families have a better life.”
“Working people have it harder and harder these days, and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite,” she said in accepting her statuette.
Co-directed by Reichert and Steven Bognar, the film is an all-access look at how both American and Chinese workers, from blue-collar to management, had their lives transformed by powerful global economic forces.
The story was moving enough to catch notice from none other than the Obamas.
The former first couple acquired “American Factory” early last year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it had won the directing award.
It was released on Netflix in August 2019 as the first offering from the former first couple’s Higher Ground Productions company.