American Factory

Continuing on with our Oscar theme, this film won one in the Best Documentary category this year. It is an Obamas backed documentary. Michelle and Barack Obama produced American Factory and it was directed by the duo of Julie Reichert and Steven Bognar.

Not so long ago the United States went through a disastrous time economically. Businesses failed, Wall Street crashed, jobs disappeared, and loads of people lost their homes. Loads of people in the middle part of America found themselves out of work. Especially those who had worked in car factories.

This is exactly what happened in Ohio. Moraine, Ohio, to be precise. It was a town which existed around the GM plant and when that closed many people found themselves unemployed. Things began to look up when the plant was purchased by Chinese company, Fuyao, owned by a Chinese billionaire.

Initially the people of Moraine are thrilled that they have jobs. Then reality settles in. The reality of differences between what they are used to in regards to working conditions and pay and what the Chinese are expecting/offering. The divide is great and unless they come to an understanding the factory will not make money, will be closed and the residents of Moraine will be back to where they began. Out of work and broke.

Filmed over more than two years from 2015-17, Reichart and Bognar’s film not only takes the economic slant, but a cultural one as well. It really, without trying to hard, shows the valley of differences between Americans and Chinese.

The fly on the wall style of the documentary is very effective. Allowing theviewer to not feel intrusive while still observing what is going on. With no narration it is only the people involved telling their own tale. As such, no judgment of either side is made by the directors. Thus allowing the unfiltered story come through as much as is possible.

American Factory is available on Netflix.

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