American Factory


The first film to come out of a production company launched by Barack and Michelle Obama is a documentary that follows a short film the two directors made for HBO in 2009, depicting the closing of a General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio. Five years later, the Chinese corporation Fuyao purchased the plant, using it for manufacturing automotive glass. We follow efforts made by the Chinese and American workers to understand each other, in Dayton and visiting company headquarters in Fuqing, China; meantime, the union-hostile owners are struggling. A compelling portrait of culture clashes, certainly relevant in the global economy, and packed with honest lessons on labor relations.

2019-U.S. 115 min. Color. Produced by Steven Bognar, Julie Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert, Julia Reichert. Directed by Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert. Music: Chad Cannon.

Trivia: First shown at Sundance, then released to Netflix. 

Oscar: Best Documentary Feature.

Last word: “The way you do [it] is by showing up again and again and again. We’re a 25-minute drive from that plant. We went there hundreds and hundreds of times. We filmed for basically three years, from February 2015 to the end of December 2017, and we’ve got over 1,200 hours of footage. We had five camera people going in there regularly, following different people who work in that plant. We had to tell everyone again and again that this was an independent film. It wasn’t sponsored by the company. We were going to try to include everyone’s point of view, even if those points of view didn’t agree with each other. But it just takes time to really be there before people say, ‘Okay, I guess you’re part of this now.'” (Bognar, Vox)



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