First film from Obamas’ studio, wins documentary Oscar - GulfToday

First film from Obamas’ studio wins Best Documentary Oscar

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Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert pose with the Oscar with presenter Mark Ruffalo. Reuters

Former American President Barack Obama may be out of office, but his influence still reigns over the current political atmosphere. When Democratic Presidential hopeful Joe Biden came under fire from more liberal candidates, he invoked Obama in his defence. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seeking a second term in office, it was Obama who expressed his support for him.

He also voices concern over the pressing issues of the day, and has tread moviedom in this regard – and how! He basked in Oscar glory when "American Factory", a documentary produced by him and his wife Michelle Obama for Netflix, won the gong for Best Documentary on Sunday. It is about a manufacturing plant in the US Midwest reopened by a Chinese billionaire,

The film charts a Midwestern rust belt community's journey from optimism at the giant plant's reopening bringing back vital jobs toward creeping anger and disillusionment as the Chinese management imposes its strict, exhausting demands on workers and sacks those who do not comply.

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Steven Bognar, centre, and Julia Reichert accept the award for Best Documentary Feature for "American Factory." AFP 

"Our film is from Ohio and China," director Julia Reichert said while accepting her golden statuette. "But it really could be from anywhere that 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," she said.

Co-directed by Reichert and Steven Bognar, the film is an all-access look at how both American and Chinese workers, from blue-collar to management, had their lives transformed by powerful global economic forces that caught the eyes of none other than the Obamas.

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Julia Reichert, left, and US director Jeff Reichert, right, arrive with cast & crew from "American Factory." AFP 

The former first couple acquired "American Factory" at the January 2019 Sundance Festival, where it had won the directing award, and was released on Netflix in August that year as the first offering from their Higher Ground Productions company.

Both Barack and Michelle Obama congratulated Reichert and Bognar for their win, with the former president calling the film "a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change."

"Glad to see two talented and downright good people take home the Oscar for Higher Ground's first release," he tweeted.

Michelle said she was "glad to see their heart and honesty recognised because the best stories are rarely tidy or perfect."

"But that's where the truth so often lies," she wrote on Twitter.

Agence France-Presse

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