Netflix launches Obamas' first film "American Factory"
"American Factory," the first film from former U.S. First Couple Barack and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground Productions, premiered Wednesday on Netflix.
In this file photo taken on October 31, 2017, former US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois. [File photo: AFP via VCG/Jim Young]
Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, the documentary tells the story of Chinese company Fuyao's factory in the U.S. state of Ohio.
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 U.S. dollars.
More than 2,000 people, many of which are locals, are working at the nearly 470,000-square-meter factory. The plant produces 4.5 million sets of automotive glass and 4 million windshield glass each year, accounting for some 19 percent of the total automotive glass sold in the United States.
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.
"We followed our customers here to the United States in order to meet their requirements ... and 'localize' in the U.S. market," said Liu.
"We are melding two different cultures -- the Chinese and the American," a Fuyao executive said in the film.
Expressing gratitude to Fuyao for allowing them full access to the factory floor, Bognar and Reichert said they had tried to craft the film so that both Chinese and American viewpoints were presented without judgment.
"American Factory" has received positive reviews with a 97-percent certified fresh rating on American review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
"Gaining steam and sparking conversation on the festival circuit, 'American Factory' is anything but a dry documentary, and will likely be a prime contender in awards season," wrote film critic Peter Debruge for entertainment news magazine and website Variety.
"American Factory, the first film in the Obamas' Netflix slate, is one of the year's best docs," news site Vox echoed.
"The first project shepherded by the Obamas is an engaging one, presenting a complicated issue with clarity, maturity, and without the need to spell out an answer," said Joey Magidson at HollywoodNews.com.
"American Factory" is the first in a slate of series and films that the Obamas have signed on for through their Higher Ground Productions. It was acquired by Netflix out of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Directing Award.
"If you know someone, if you talk to them face-to-face, 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 with them together," said Obama in a new clip released by Netflix of conversation between the former First Couple and the directors.
"We want people to be able to get outside of themselves and experience and understand the lives of somebody else, which is what a good story does," he said.
"One of the many things I love about this project is that (it) is not an editorial, I mean, you truly let people speak for themselves," Michelle told the directors.
"Higher Ground is a reflection of both of us. So that means that our platform is going to look a little bit like everything, just like the world is a little bit like everything," she said.