Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Obamas’ first documentary wins best documentary Oscar




Obamas’ first documentary wins best documentary Oscar

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in Chicago, Illinois, last year. The former first couple congratulated Reichert and Bognar for their win on Sunday, with the former president calling the film ‘a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change’. AFP

Obamas’ first documentary wins best documentary Oscar

The Barack and Michelle Obama-produced film American Factory snagged an Oscar on Sunday for best documentary – a win for Netflix, which backed the story of a manufacturing plant in the US Midwest reopened by a Chinese billionaire.

The film charts a Rust Belt community’s journey from optimism at the giant plant’s reopening, which brought back vital jobs, towards creeping anger and disillusionment, as the Chinese management imposed strict, exhausting demands on workers – and sacked those who did not comply.

“Our film is from Ohio and China,” director Julia Reichert said. “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 in accepting her statuette.

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.

The story was moving enough to catch notice from none other than the Obamas.

The former first couple acquired American Factory early last year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it had won the directing award.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
(From left to right) Julia Reichert, Lindsay Utz, Steven Bognar, Jeff Reichert and Julie Parker Benello accept the Documentary - Feature - award for American Factory onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on Sunday in Hollywood, California, on Sunday. AFP

It was released on Netflix in August 2019 as the first offering from the former first couple’s Higher Ground Productions company.

The film’s co-producer and the factory’s chairman were unable to leave China for the ceremony, due to White House restrictions on travel over the coronavirus panic.

“That inconvenience pales when compared to people losing their lives, suffering because of this virus,” co-director Bognar said backstage.

The Obamas congratulated Reichert and Bognar for their win on Sunday, 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.

The former first lady said she was “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,” she tweeted.

American Factory bested The Edge of Democracy, The Cave, For Sama and Honeyland to take the Oscar.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • ‘Beware of WhatsApp fraudsters’

    The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications warned members of the public who use WhatsApp to vigilantly guard against a new trick employed by hackers that involves the use of six-digit codes sent to potential victims via the popular messaging app. The ministry said hackers could