Dive social in the everyday life of a factory of Ohio purchased by the Chinese, the documentary American Factory was conquered by Barack and Michelle Obama, who made the first acquisition of their own production company, Higher Ground.
“They call us foreigners,” says an employee is disillusioned with a factory windshield in Ohio, where hundreds of chinese workers came to work, away from their families. But the worker in question is american, not chinese, and it is difficult to adapt to the changes brought in by the billionaire Cao Dewang, who bought it in 2014 the plant Moraine, abandoned six years earlier by the manufacturer emblematic of the United States, General Motors.
To the makers of the film American Factory , Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, he is neither more nor less of “globalization” reverse. The couple had been selected for an academy award for his documentary about the closure of the factory GM in 2008 ( The Last Truck ) and he wanted to get back to filming the recovery of the production under the direction of the chinese company Fuyao.
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“Mrs. Obama said it spoke to him, because his father worked very hard for decades to make a living for his family”
American Factory portrays the joy initially sparked by the resumption of the activity and the return of thousands of jobs in a disaster zone, and then the anger and disillusionment to the requirements and the severity of the chinese leadership. This dive into the life of the factory workers to senior executives, both americans and chinese, won over the former president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle when the film was presented in January at the prestigious Sundance, Utah. The couple immediately bought the documentary and will distribute it on the platform Netflix and in selected cinemas on the 21st of August, the first ever distributed by their company, Higher Ground Productions.
“Mrs. Obama said it spoke to him, because his father worked very hard for decades to make a living for his family, and she felt this hand, ‘Midwest’ of the film when she saw it,” says AFP Steven Bognar. “She was reunited with her family in the film, and I think the president has found a number of policy issues and topics related to globalization,” adds Julia Reichert.
The competition between the United States and China for control of the global economy is a key factor in the geopolitics of the 21st century. The filmmakers have sought to explore the human aspects through the life of the plant of the Ohio, which the owner gave them free access. Cao Dewang, chairman and founder of Fuyao, “is a maverick, someone who was very independent, a business man who is doing everything alone”, analysis Steven Bognar. “He had seen our previous film, and he had loved him, so he decided to try his luck with us.”
The first scenes of the new documentary to show the sincere efforts of american workers and chinese to get to know and establish links. Fishing Parties, lessons, firing and Thanksgiving seem to bear fruit. Things go bad when the new management was concerned about financial losses. She then begins to sack the executives in the u.s., to be replaced by chinese, bombarded with exhortations to patriotic to obtain yields ever more important.
“With the film, you have a small taste of what globalization to the human level”
Despite the promises, wages remain well below those offered at the time by General Motors, while everything is done to discourage attempts to organize unions or to stem the deterioration of the security criteria. “The cultural gap was wider than people thought,” says Steven Bognar, noting that the owners chinese were equally as disoriented and disappointed that the american workers. “We have not put out while the pressure rose, it is necessary to put it to their credit,” noted the director.
The plant Moraine is not an isolated case. Chinese investors have bought out of many industrial sites in the Midwest or the southern States in the Us, whose jobs had been outsourced to Mexico or neighbour or else. President Donald Trump has extensively played these disappointments to consolidate its victory in 2016. It has achieved very good scores election in Ohio and in Michigan and Wisconsin neighbors, promising that the workers made redundant would find a job thanks to its economic policy.
With American Factory , “you have a small taste of what gives globalization a human level. I think that the film leaves you with a feeling of unease,” says Julia Reichert.