Obamas make their Hollywood movie debut with 'American Factory'

Carla Harmon
August 22, 2019

'American Factory, ' the story of what happened when a Chinese company took over an abandoned General Motors plant, is the first product of a multi-year collaboration between Netflix and Higher Ground, the production company formed last year by the former United States president and first lady.

The market-oriented strategy adopted by the company has led it to take root in the United States and achieved win-win results with local communities, Jeff Liu, president and CEO of Fuyao Glass America, told Xinhua in a recent interview. "And it's why Michelle and I were drawn to Higher Ground's first film, 'American Factory'".

"We are melding two different cultures - the Chinese and the American", a Fuyao executive said in the film.


The film-which now holds a 97 percent positivity rating on Rotten Tomatoes-raked in the Best Directing Award for a U.S. Documentary at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

It's one thing to skim headlines about trade wars and the struggles of the working class on your smartphone; it's entirely another to see them come to such stark, specific life as they do in American Factory, a new Netflix documentary that sharply delineates the possibilities - and the limits - of a modern global economy.

"If you know someone, if you've talked to them face-to-face, if you can forge a connection, you may not agree with them on everything, but there's some common ground to be found and you can move forward together", he adds.


Former President Barack Obama, and former first lady Michelle Obama arrive for the first session of the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago.

In a statement issued by Netflix past year, the Obamas said they "hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world".

The documentary is the first title from President and Mrs. Obama's Higher Ground. "Just like the world is a little bit of everything". But the heart and soul of American Factory, like all American factories, is never really politics of course; it's people. B+.


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