Obama’s First Film: Documentary “American Factory” Goes Inside Closed Ohio Factory Reopened under Chinese Company
Obama has chosen an interesting genre for his filmmaking debut. The directors call the documentary “reverse globalization” as it follows an Ohio car glass factory being reopened under Chinese management. The documentary follows the plant’s closure in 2008 as well as its reopening under new leadership, the Chinese company Fuyao corporation.
According to Yahoo News, the documentary 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” which “caught the eyes” of Barack and Michelle Obama at January’s Sundance Film Festival. The documentary will be released on Netflix and in select theaters beginning August 21.
Director Steven Bognar was quoted saying “Mrs Obama said it resonated with her because her father had done an intense, hardworking job for decades just to provide for his family, and she felt the Midwesterness of the film in what she saw on screen.”
Filmmakers believe policy issues and broad globalization themes are what intrigued the former President himself. “The battle for economic supremacy between the US and a rising China is perhaps the defining geopolitical story of the 21st century” and “The filmmakers set out to understand what that rivalry looks like on a human level, and were granted extraordinary access by Fuyao founder.”
In the documentary, “genuine attempts by the US and Chinese workers to bond with their new colleagues, including fishing and shooting lessons and shared Thanksgiving dinners” appeared to be working. However, as the new Chinese owners “become alarmed by heavy financial losses, they fire the American middle managers and increasingly invoke their Chinese replacements’ sense of nationalistic pride to spur harder work, leaving the workforce ever-more divided.”
Purportedly the movie will leave viewers with a “sense of unease” because “the cultural chasm was wider than people anticipated” and “Chinese owners felt equally baffled and let down by the attitudes of US workers.”