The Obamas Have a Deal With Netflix and Their First Project Drops This Month
This past April, Michelle and Barack Obama announced their partnership with Netflix to create content under their Higher Ground Productions banner. The former first couple launched the company sometime last year and had been on the lookout for projects that align with their vision to present stories that are informative, inspiring, and entertaining. Plucked from a range of genres, they are set to include documentaries, fiction and non-fiction works, feature films, multiple drama series projects, and children’s programming.
Now, the Obamas’ first piece is set to premiere on Netflix this month. Below are the details on American Factory and what the future holds for the former president and first lady‘s entertainment endeavor.
The documentary first caught their attention through Sundance
American Factory made its debut at Sundance in January and according to IndieWire, won an award for directing in the US Documentary category. Per The Hollywood Reporter, the Obamas already watched the film in advance and were interested in Higher Ground acquiring the rights to it. Reps from their company and the team behind American Factory worked out the deal right away while keeping the Obamas’ involvement a secret for months, and the documentary will hit Netflix on August 21.
Helmed by directors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, the film centers on the true story about a new factory that was opened by a Chinese billionaire in an old General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio. A description on the Sundance website reads:
“In 2014, a Chinese billionaire opened a Fuyao factory in a shuttered General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio. For thousands of locals, the arrival of this multinational car-glass manufacturer meant regaining their jobs—and dignity—after the recession left them high and dry. American Factory takes us inside the facility to observe what happens when workers from profoundly different cultures collide.”
The factory hired 2,000 Americans along with a number of Chinese immigrants, and the film will explore the dynamics and impact of this new working environment on the locals and their Chinese counterparts. American Factory is one sample of the type of content the Obamas will produce.
Future projects included scripted and unscripted works
In the realm of fiction, Higher Ground Productions is working on a drama called Bloom. According to Deadline, the series is about fashion in post-World War II New York and will center on “barriers faced by women and by people of color in an era marked by hurdles but also tremendous progress.”
Mrs. Obama is said to be particularly excited about the family-friendly preschool series, Listen to Your Vegetables and Eat Your Parents, which will teach young children about food from all over the globe. The Higher Ground team is also working on a Frederick Douglass biopic which is adapted from the book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, and a scripted series called Overlooked which is based on a column of the same name from The New York Times.
According to Mrs. Obama, they are excited about what’s on the horizon:
“We love this slate because it spans so many different interests and experiences, yet it’s all woven together with stories that are relevant to our daily lives. We think there’s something here for everyone — moms and dads, curious kids, and anyone simply looking for an engaging, uplifting watch at the end of a busy day. We can’t wait to see these projects come to life and the conversations they’ll generate.”
So far, American Factory has been the only Obama production announced for Netflix in the coming weeks, but Higher Ground will have a number of releases due out in the next few years.