Barack and Michelle Obama’s First Netflix Film Wins Oscar for Best Documentary

“One of the many things I love about this project is that it’s not an editorial.”
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama during his farewell address in Chicago on Jan. 10, 2017. (Bilgin Sasmaz / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle add yet another award to their long list of achievements by winning an Oscar on Sunday.

What We Know:

  • American Factory took home the Academy Award in the category of “Best Documentary Feature” during the night, defeating The Edge of Democracy and For Sama. In American Factory, filmmakers Steven Bognar, Julia Eichert, and Jeff Eichert followed the story of an Ohio factory that was reopened by a Chinese billionaire inside of an abandoned General Motors plant.
  • The documentary, which streamed exclusively on Netflix, marked the Obamas’ first film project from their Higher Ground production company. While accepting the award, Bognar and the Eicherts thanked Higher Ground, for allowing the important story to be told.
  • Former president Obama also took to Twitter that night to congratulate Julia and Steven, for their stellar work in demonstrating this story as a well-crafted film via their production company’s first feature release.

  • American Factory “focuses on post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring 2,000 blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.”
  • The film description continues by saying “the filmmakers capture every key moment in this high-stakes intercultural chess game, revealing how American and Chinese workers view themselves within systems of authority. It’s a collision of the future of American labor and Chinese economic dominance, all within the confines of a factory in Ohio.”

During a brief YouTube clip posted in August by Netflix, the filmmakers and the Obama’s sat down and had a conversation about the film. Michelle noted, “One of the many things I love about this project is that it’s not an editorial.” She continued by saying, “I mean, you truly let people speak for themselves.”




Javier Garay is an Digital Intern at UnmutedCo.