DUBAI: The Oscar for best feature-length documentary has gone to “American Factory,” the first documentary released by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company.
The Netflix film is about an Ohio auto glass factory that is run by a Chinese investor. It explores many issues, including the rights of workers, globalization and automation.
“American Factory” beat out “Honeyland,” “The Cave,” “The Edge of Democracy” and “For Sama.” Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, directors of “American Factory” acknowledged the work of their fellow nominees on Sunday. “We are inspired by you guys,” said Reichert.
The documentary beat out “For Sama” by director Waad Al-Kateab low budget film depicting a young mother’s harrowing experience during the Syrian war. Al-Kateab did, however, take home the award for Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), in addition to winning the Best Director, Best Documentary and Best Editing awards. “For Sama” also won the Best Documentary at the British Academy Film Awards earlier this month.
Read Arab News' interview with Al-Khateab here.
Meanwhile, “American Factory” also beat out Syrian director Feras Fayyad, whose “The Cave” tells the story of Amani Ballor, who amidst the civil war became the first woman to manage a hospital in the history of the country.
Watch Arab News' interview with Feras Fayyad here.
For its part, “American Factory” is about the Fuyao plant, bought by Chinese industrialist Cao Dewang, which employs some 2,200 American and 200 Chinese workers. The film gives a close-up look at how the cultures adjust to one another. Tensions rise when the factory doesn’t initially meet production goals, culminating in a bitter fight over the right to unionize.
“Working people have it harder and harder these days,” said Reichert. She urged workers to fight back — by uniting.
The name of the Obamas’ company, Higher Ground, flashes by in the opening credits, but the Obamas themselves aren’t mentioned anywhere. Neither is President Donald Trump.