Obama-backed documentary on Ohio factory beats out Syrian films at 92nd Oscars

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Updated 10 February 2020

Obama-backed documentary on Ohio factory beats out Syrian films at 92nd Oscars

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 Netflix film is about an Ohio auto glass factory that is run by a Chinese investor. (AFP)

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.




“For Sama,” by director Waad Al-Kateab, is a low budget film depicting a young mother’s harrowing experience during the Syrian war. (AFP)

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.




“American Factory” gives a close-up look at how the cultures adjust to one another. (AFP)

“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.


French-Tunisian star Sonia Ben Ammar joins the cast of ‘Scream 5’

Updated 20 September 2020

French-Tunisian star Sonia Ben Ammar joins the cast of ‘Scream 5’

DUBAI:Up-and-coming French-Tunisian singer, model and actor Sonia Ben Ammar has joined the cast of “Scream 5,”  it’s been revealed this week.

 According to Variety, production on Spyglass Media and Paramount Pictures’ upcoming relaunch of the  famous horror film franchise is set to begin later this month.

Filmmaking duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who are behind “Ready or Not,” are directing the forthcoming film.

The first “Scream” film was released in 1996, well before Ben Ammar was even born.  A smash hit upon its debut, the movie helped to revive the horror genre, becoming the highest-grossing slasher movie of all-time. 

This will be Paris-born Ammar’s first high-profile Hollywood gig as an actress. She along with other young franchise newcomers will be joining returning cast members David Arquette, Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell, who are all reprising their iconic roles as Dewey Riley, Gale Weathers and Sidney Prescott.

Plot details for the new film, set to debut in theaters on Jan. 14, 2022, are still under wraps,  so it is not yet known what role the French-Arab star will be taking on.

“I’m SCREAMing of excitement!! (sic)” wrote the 21-year-old on Instagram, announcing the news to her 730,000 social media followers. “Incredibly grateful to be part of one of my favorite franchises. 2nd photo is my face when I got the call lol (sic),” she captioned a screenshot of Variety’s article announcing the news and a blurry snap of her clearly overjoyed. 

However, it’s not the multi-hyphenate model’s first foray into the film industry.

Ben Ammar, who is the daughter of Tunisian film director Tarek Ben Ammar and actress Beata, previously starred in Guillaume Canet’s French-language film “Jappeloup” as well as the stage musical “1789: Les Amants de la Bastille.”

She’s also appeared in several music videos, including “Drivin’ Thru the Night” by DJ Petit Biscuit, as well as clips for her own singles, such as “Joyride” from her debut EP.

In addition to music, Ben Ammar is also a rising model, and has worked for many major brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, Carolina Herrera and Chanel, among other prestigious fashion houses.