‘American Factory’ directors on capturing what ‘globalization looks like on a human scale’


The two filmmakers profiled in this excellent article actually reside in Yellow Springs, Ohio, the home of longtime AAPN member Jeannamarie Cox. If you have not seen this movie, it is absolutely amazing. I write this as someone from Ohio who worked his way through college by having a factory job every summer……..Mike

‘American Factory’ directors on capturing what ‘globalization looks like on a human scale’
Fortune: January 29, 2020

It feels a bit surreal at first, but there it is, happening on-screen: The Chinese president of a Chinese-owned factory is coaching a roomful of Chinese workers on how to increase the productivity of their American coworkers, whom they work together with in Dayton.

“You need some skills to handle Americans,” says Fuyao Glass America president Jeff Daochuan Liu. “There’s a culture in the U.S. where children are showered with encouragement. So everyone who grows up in the U.S. is overconfident. Americans love being flattered to death.”

This scene is at the heart of the conflict in American Factory—the first Netflix offering from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground—which has earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

In 2015, Chinese billionaire Cao Dewang reopened a shuttered General Motors plant that previously served as the lifeblood of the Dayton community. While locals who lost their GM jobs were initially enthusiastic about the opportunity to return to work, the film goes on to detail the challenges of two very different cultures and approaches to labor coming together. American Factory spans nearly three years and utilizes a fly-on-the-wall approach to documentary filmmaking. Beyond the cultural themes explored, the film poses even larger questions about the future of work as we speed toward an increasingly globalized world. Read More