The documentary, directed by filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, was the first release by Higher Ground Productions, a company that formed the former U.S. president and first woman in 2018 in a multi-layered collaboration with Netflix streaming service .
Netflix purchased “American Factory” in association with Higher Ground out of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it was awarded a US documentary directing award.
The film, which explores themes of economic displacement and conflicting cultures, traces the experience of workers in Moraine, Ohio, who lost their jobs in a closed General Motors factory, only to be rehoused six years later after the facility to be converted into a Chinese-owned factory. automotive glass plant. “Our film is from Ohio and China … but it could be anywhere people are wearing costumes, punching a clock, trying to make their families have a better life,” said Reichert when accepting the award.
“Working people are finding it harder and harder these days, and we think things will get better when the workers of the world unite,” he added, recalling the cry famous Marxist rally from “The Communist Manifesto.”
None of the Obamas attended the ceremony on Sunday, but Bognar mentioned Higher Ground Productions thanking him from the stage.
“Congratulations to Julia and Steven, the filmmakers behind American Factory, for telling such a complex, poignant story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change,” Barack Obama later wrote on Twitter. “Glad to see two talented and upright people take home the Oscar for Higher Ground’s first release.”
“American Factory” defeated an area of rivals that included “The Cave” and “For Sama,” two documentaries about the civil war in Syria, as well as “The Edge of Democracy,” which chronicles the revelation of two presidencies Brazil; and “Honeyland,” about ancient beekeeping traditions in the mountains of Northern Macedonia.
The production deal between the Obamas and Netflix is the first for any former White House occupant.
The closest comparison is former US Vice President Al Gore, whose global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Oscar in 2007. Gore also launched a youth-focused cable TV network, Current TV, in 2005, but was sold to the Middle East based on Al Jazeera in 2013 and later closed.