'American Factory': What you need to know about the Obamas' Oscar-nominated doccie

15 January 2020 - 10:27 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Former US president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have received an Oscar nod for 'American Factory'.
Former US president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have received an Oscar nod for 'American Factory'.
Image: Jim Young / AFP

Barack and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions, has scored its first Oscar nomination - for the documentary film American Factory.

Here is what you need to know about it.

Cash between culture

The Netflix production is a thought-provoking production about a culture clash. It tells the story of a Chinese company and American workers at the former General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio.

According to Netflix, the film takes a “dive into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant and hires 2,000 blue-collar Americans.”

Shot over three years

The film won its first award at the RiverRun International Film Festival in 2019 where it was named best documentary feature.

It was directed by Emmy award winning duo Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who, according to the film, shot more than 1,200 hours of material over three years.

Watch trailer below:

Critics' favourite

The film is also acritics' favourite. It has received an approval rating of 96% based on reviews from 55 critics, with an average of 8.51/10, Rotten Tomatoes reported.

Vulture wrote: “It’s a great, expansive, deeply humanist work, angry but empathetic to its core. It gestures towards the end of the working world we know — and to the rise of the machines.”

“A fascinating tragicomedy about the incompatibility of American and Chinese industries,” wrote IndieWire.

Pride and joy

Taking to social media, the Obamas expressed gratitude for the continued positive reception the film has been receiving.

Barack said it was “the kind of story we don’t see often enough and it’s exactly what Michelle and I hope to achieve with Higher Ground.”

Michelle said: “What Julia and Steve capture on film is at times painful, at times exhilarating, but always thoughtful and always real — exactly the kind of story Barack and I wanted to lift up with Higher Ground Productions.”