Obamas' First Film for Netflix Seen as 'Anti-Trump'

An Oscar-nominated duo from Ohio directed Sundance winner 'American Factory'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2019 7:26 AM CDT

The first project from Barack and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground Productions arrived on Netflix on Wednesday. American Factory, a documentary showcasing tensions between Chinese and American attitudes at an auto glass-manufacturing operation at a former General Motors plant in Ohio, comes from Dayton directors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who received an Oscar nomination for their 2009 short film The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant. "It was a very big surprise," Bognar tells the Daily Beast of teaming up with the Obamas. The goal of the film—winner of the US Documentary Directing prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival—was to show "what globalization looks like on a human, intimate scale in one factory," adds Reichert, who admits the pair "worked really, really hard" to get former President Obama elected.

While Vox calls the film "soberly instructive and fascinating" and "one of the year's best docs," Fox News reports it's "being slammed as an attack on the current president." Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor describes it as "a hit job documentary on Trump," who isn't named. Ted Johnson at Politico calls it both a "big anti-Trump statement" and "a quiet response to Trump's promises to reinvigorate the industrial heartland." He notes Trump told a crowd in Lima, Ohio, earlier this year that manufacturing was being restored "in record numbers." But the film shows "Americans will have to accept a new reality to stay competitive in the global marketplace—one that they might not like, and one that Trump doesn't acknowledge," Johnson writes. "If some manufacturing jobs do come back, they're going to look nothing like they used to." (Read more Netflix stories.)

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