Netflix’s “American Factory,” produced by Michelle and Barack Obama, took home the award for best documentary at the 92nd Oscars. It’s the first Academy Award for the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground.
The former president and first lady weren’t able to attend Sunday’s ceremony in Hollywood. The award was accepted by the film’s co-directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert.
Accepting the award, Reichert said, “Working people have it harder and harder these days — and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite.”
Michelle Obama sent her congratulations, tweeting “The best stories are rarely tidy or perfect. But that’s where the truth so often lies.”
Congrats to Julia, Steven, and the whole crew on winning Best Documentary for #AmericanFactory, Higher Ground's first release! So glad to see their heart and honesty recognized—because the best stories are rarely tidy or perfect. But that’s where the truth so often lies. https://t.co/qtdNEw9H3f
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 10, 2020
“American Factory” tells the story of what happens when a Chinese company opens an automotive glass plant at a former General Motors plant in Ohio and faces intense cultural differences and community skepticism.
Participant Media was also a producer on the film. Participant CEO David Linde said in a statement, “We are deeply humbled and grateful to the Academy for this exciting honor. At Participant, we believe that storytelling has the ever-important opportunity to spark positive social change in our world today. We are incredibly proud of ‘American Factory,’ and congratulate Steve, Julia, Jeff and our friends and colleagues at Netflix and Higher Ground for helping us shed light on these important issues worldwide and here at home.”
“American Factory,” which also won the DGA award and the Los Angeles Film Critics’ documentary prize, beat out fellow Oscar nominees “The Cave,” “The Edge of Democracy,” “For Sama” and “Honeyland.”
The Obamas’ Higher Ground production company, which entered a multiyear agreement with Netflix in 2019, will also produce dramas and family programming. Last August, Barack Obama explained the company’s mission in a video interview with the “American Factory” directors. “We all have a sacred story in us, right?” he said. “A story that gives us meaning and purpose and how we organize our lives. A good story is a good story. If it’s a documentary like yours or if it’s a scripted story that helps people understand something they didn’t understand before, we want to see if we can give voice to it.”
Though the Obamas never attended the Academy Awards, Michelle Obama did make an appearance via video in 2013 when she presented “Argo” with best picture.