Barack and Michelle Obama have made their Hollywood debut with a documentary set in industrial Ohio.
“American Factory,” the story of what happened when a Chinese company took over an abandoned General Motors plant, is the first product of a multi-year collaboration between Netflix (NFLX.O) and Higher Ground, the production company formed last year by the former U.S. president and first lady.
“A good story gives you the chance to better understand someone else’s life. It can help you find common ground. And it’s why Michelle and I were drawn to Higher Ground’s first film,” Obama said in a Twitter posting.
The documentary which film reviewers are calling compelling and timely, traces the lives of thousands of workers laid off from their auto jobs in Moraine, Ohio, in the 2008 recession, some of whom were hired six years later by Chinese company, Fuyao Glass America, to make automotive glass in the same plant.
American Factory which arrived on Netflix on Wednesday, seeks to lift up stories from underrepresented groups.
“We want people to be able to get outside of themselves and experience and understand the lives of somebody else,” Obama told filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar in a promotional video released by Netflix.
Michelle Obama told the filmmakers she was particularly struck by the opening scenes of workers on the factory floor.
“That was my background, that was my father,”.
“One of the many things I love about this film… is that you let people tell their own story. “American Factory’ doesn’t come in with a perspective; it’s not an editorial.” she said.