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Obamas Talk Storytelling in Preview for Netflix Doc ‘American Factory’

“We want people to be able to get outside of themselves and experience and understand the lives of somebody else,” former president says of film, their first for Higher Ground Productions

Ryan Reed Aug 22, 2019

Michelle Obama (left) and Barack Obama in a still from the 'American Factory.'

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Barack and Michelle Obama discuss the craft and connectivity of storytelling with filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar in a teaser video promoting their new Netflix documentary American Factory. The film, out today on the streaming service and in select theaters, is the first title from the former president and first lady’s Higher Ground production company.

“We want people to be able to get outside of themselves and experience and understand the lives of somebody else,” Barack says in the clip. “Which is what a good story does. It helps all of us feel some sort of solidarity with each other.”

He continues, “We all have a sacred story in us, right? A story that gives us meaning and purpose in how we organize our lives. If you know someone, if you’ve talked to them face-to-face, if you can forge a connection, you may not agree with them on everything, but there’s some common ground to be found, and you can move forward together.”

American Factory examines Sino-American relations in the backdrop of post-industrial Ohio, as a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in an abandoned General Motors plant and hires 2,000 workers. In the interview, Bognar says his and Reichert’s collective goal was to “give voice” to ordinary working people: “their stories, their struggles, their hopes.”

“One of the many things I love about this project is that it’s not an editorial,” Michelle tells the directors. “I mean, you truly let people speak for themselves.”

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