A movie by former President and the first lady’s production company, Higher Ground, took home the Academy award for the best documentary feature. American Factory, a Netflix film is about the Fuyao plant, bought by Chinese industrialists Cao Dewang, who employs 2,200 Americans with 200 Chinese workers. It focuses on how two extremely different cultures adjust with each other. However, the tension rises when the factory doesn’t initially meet production goals, resulting in a bitter fight over the right to unionize.
The film lays emphases on how their cultures clash (with Chinese workers getting lessons in how Americans are overconfident and need to be praise), how the workers are taken advantage of by the management (they’re convinced not to join a union for the security of their jobs) and how mechanization could take many of their jobs.
Though the name of the Obama’s company flashes in the opening credits, but the Obamas themselves aren’t mentioned anywhere. Neither is President Donald Trump.
As soon as the film received an Oscar nomination in January, the former President tweeted: “It’s the kind of story we don’t see often enough and it’s exactly what Michelle and I hope to achieve with higher grounds. Congrats to the incredible filmmakers and the entire team!”
The Obama’s launched the ‘Higher Ground’ in spring 2018 in partnership with Netflix, promising a company that would ‘harness the power of storytelling’ and touch on ‘issues of race and class, democracy and civil right.’
Barack Obama congratulated the directors Steven Bognar and Reichert “for telling such a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of economic change.”