10 February 2020 16:36
Novieku-Babatunde Adeola is a content writer, social media strategist, entertainment journalist, freelance PR practitioner and event engineer. His passion sterns from the need to change the narrative in Africa and diaspora. He has worked with several media organizations in Ghana and a pioneer of the Ghana Event Awards. Get in touch! Barack and Michelle Obama have won their first Academy Award.
The former first family took home the award for best feature-length documentary at the 92nd Oscars on Sunday for "American Factory". Photo: Deadline The award, the first for the couple, comes after the setup of their production company, Higher Ground. Support Pan-African Journalism Subscribe "Our story is from Ohio and China but it can really be from anywhere. Working people have it harder and harder these days," said Julia Reichert while accepting the Oscar along with Steven Bognar. "We believe things will get better when workers of the world unite." According to Variety, "American Factory" tells the story of what happens when a Chinese company opens an automotive glass plant at a former General Motors plant in Ohio and faces intense cultural differences and community skepticism.
So glad to see their heart and honesty recognized—because the best stories are rarely tidy or perfect. But that's where the truth so often lies. — Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 10, 2020 The Fuyao plant, bought by Chinese industrialist Cao Dewang, employs some 2,200 American and 200 Chinese workers. The film gives a close-up look at how the cultures adjust to one another. Tensions rise when the factory doesn't initially meet production goals, culminating in a bitter fight over the right to unionize, Foxnews reports. "American Factory" beat competition from "Honeyland," "The Cave," "The Edge of Democracy" and "For Sama." Since its release, January 2019, it has claimed: Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Documentary Film and Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Documentary. The Obamas' Higher Ground production company, which entered a multiyear agreement with Netflix in 2019, will also produce dramas and other family programming. Photo: Bleacherreport Other winners of black origin are, Matthew Cherry's "Hair Love" for Best Animated Short Film. Ever since the financial crash of 2008, an increasing number of factories across the country have shut down. In the new Netflix documentary "American Factory," a former General Motors factory in Moraine, Ohio is bought out by a Chinese car glass company named Fuyao. What starts off as an opportunity for the people of Moraine, quickly turns into a situation they never asked for. Directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert do a fantastic job capturing the frustration of the workers and showing what goes into running a factory. The stark differences in working conditions between China and the United States is outstanding. At the Fuyao plant in Moraine, workers are allowed eight days off a month while at a Fuyao plant in China, workers are allowed to go home once or twice a year. Also at the factory shown in China, workers had no safety glasses on or glass resistant gloves. Seeing this really had me wondering what else goes on in factories across China. The lack of regulations isn't the only shocking part of "American Factory." In the second half of the film, Bognar and Reichert decided to showcase the fight between workers unionizing at the Moraine plant and the resistance of management. Both sides of the argument are shown and while the directors slanted towards the pro-union side, they do a great job at getting viewers to understand why the executives at Fuyao Glass America are frustrated with unions. A quote that best summarizes the management of Fuyao comes from the safety director of Fuyao, John Crane. "Everybody at every level will say that we (Fuyao) really, really want to be safe. But safety doesn't pay the bills," Crane said. Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert pose with the Oscar for best documentary feature for American Factory at the Governors Ball following the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. The film is about a Chinese company taking over a former US car plant and how two workplace cultures mesh together. Photo: Reuters