‘American Factory,’ documentary featuring on a Chinese billionaire, wins Oscar


Congratulations to Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert on their first Oscar wins. “American Factory” is the first film released from the new production company Higher Ground, founded by former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

The documentary chronicled what happened to workers when a Chinese billionaire purchased a manufacturing plant in the U.S. Midwest.

Though unable to leave China to attend Sunday night’s Academy Awards due to travel restrictions prompted by the coronavirus, “American Factory” subject Cao Dewang has a message of congratulations for filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar for their Netflix film.

“American Factory” certainly isn’t easy on Chairman Cao, as he’s known, a Chinese billionaire who set up shop in post-industrial Ohio with a new factory in the skeleton of a shuttered General Motors plant. As high-tech China faces up against working-class America, the factory advent appears to bring promise to an economically depressed community — until the operation is riven by setbacks. However, Reichert and Bognar were able to gain his trust. The documentary was originally commissioned by Chairman Cao, but Reichert and Bognar demanded total independence if they were to make the film. which meant complete access to board meetings, the factory itself, and time with its workers and Dewang. This meant it no longer was a commissioned film, but instead, a critical piece that, as the below message indicates, has touched the Chairman.

“American Factory” is the first release from their company Higher Ground Productions, which the former U.S. president and first lady founded in 2018. In that same year, they announced a multiyear deal to supply content to streaming service Netflix.

“Our film is from Ohio and China. Go Buckeyes!” Julia Reichert, an American documentary filmmaker who worked on the film, said during her acceptance speech Sunday. “But it really could be from anywhere where people put on a uniform, punch a clock, trying to make their families have a better life. Working people have it harder and harder these days and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite.”

“American Factory” follows the lives of thousands of workers who were laid off from their auto jobs in Moraine, Ohio, in the 2008 recession. Some of those workers were hired six years later by Chinese company Fuyao Glass America to make automotive glass in the same plant.”

The deadly novel coronavirus crisis is hurting the Chinese mainland box office not only for domestic films but also for Oscar award-winning films.

The rumor came after Chinese film Lost in Russia, which was originally scheduled to debut in theaters during the Chinese New Year Holiday, went straight to streaming sites for free and film Enter The Fat Dragon aired on China’s two leading streaming platforms, Tencent Video and iQiyi during the Spring Festival due to concerns surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus.

High-profile movies at the Oscars usually are introduced to the Chinese mainland within a very short time such as the films Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody in 2019 with an aim to earn more revenue in China, the world’s second-largest film market.

This year 2020 will expect a very different story in a hard time.

By Winnie Troppie


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