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Obama's 1st film about the shutdown of GM's factory in Ohio "because work is going global"

Apt that Obama's first film is about "work going global" and the shutdown of a US GM factory - only to have it re-opened as a Chinese owned and managed component manufacturer.

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Here's the story from Vox


In December 2008, the last truck rolled off the assembly line of the GM plant in Dayton, Ohio. Its closing left thousands of people out of work. Then, in 2014, a Chinese company called Fuyao Glass reopened the factory to serve as its American arm, and hired a workforce, including many former GM employees, to make automotive glass. Chinese managers were brought to Dayton to supervise the Americans.

The story is yet another chapter in American manufacturing’s inexorable march toward globalization, and it’s told in intimate, fascinating detail in the new documentary American Factory, which is now streaming on Netflix. And as you might guess, there are some bumps in the road.

Directed by veteran documentarians Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert, American Factorychronicles the plant’s reopening and the years after it, mostly in fly-on-the-wall fashion. (It’s also the first film from Higher Ground, Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, which has partnered with Netflix to distribute a slate of programming.) Daytonians who struggled after they were laid off from GM rejoice when they are rehired by the new company, but soon find that their expectations about labor practices and corporate culture clash with the new management’s ideals.

The film tracks American and Chinese workers and managers through a years-long period of adjustment, some of it quite rocky. At times, it’s a bit humorous; at others, it’s more grave. Differences in American and Chinese ideas about loyalty to your employer, safety on the factory floor, working overtime, and much more come to the foreground. And when the workers at Fuyao Glass America decide to unionize, trouble follows.

Reichert (whose 50-year career in documentary filmmaking has often examined the American working class) and Bognar, who often work together, knew what they were doing in choosing this factory as their subject. They both live in Dayton, and in their 2009 short documentary The Last Truck, they captured the closing of the GM plant and its effects on the surrounding community, mostly through interviews with workers who were losing their jobs.