'American Factory' won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards.
American Factory won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, and Barack and Michelle Obama couldn't be more excited. The former president and first lady officially entered the 2020 Oscars mix with the Netflix documentary, which made headlines last summer when it was announced as the first film presented by the their production company, Higher Ground.
American Factory, from directors Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, goes inside an abandoned General Motors plant that was transformed into an auto-glass factory by a Chinese billionaire, bringing a mix of hope and culture clashes to a blue-color Ohio town.
"Congrats to Julia and Steven, the filmmakers behind American Factory, for telling such a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change," Barack wrote on Twitter. "Glad to see two talented and downright good people take home the Oscar for Higher Ground’s first release."
"Congrats to Julia, Steven, and the whole crew on winning Best Documentary for #AmericanFactory, Higher Ground's first release!" Michelle tweeted a few minutes later. "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."
Backstage at the Oscars, Reichert and Bognar explained why the Obamas took on their film. "They felt it could help. People listen to each other, and through these stories, create empathy, which then builds relationships," they said.
At the time, they hadn't heard from either Barack or Michelle, but were confident they had "heard the news."
When the documentary was first nominated, the couple took to social media to share their excitement. "Glad to see American Factory’s Oscar nod for Best Documentary," Barack wrote at the time "It’s the kind of story we don’t see often enough and it’s exactly what Michelle and I hope to achieve with Higher Ground. Congrats to the incredible filmmakers and entire team!"
In a separate tweet, Michelle added she's "so thrilled that Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar, and all of the incredible people behind #AmericanFactory are nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar! We’re so proud of them and amazed by their talent for storytelling."
"Trusting someone to tell your story is no small thing. We were trusted by great people who work at a factory in our strong and scrappy hometown, Dayton, Ohio, and by Fuyao’s maverick Chairman, Cao DeWang, to tell the story of American Factory," Reichert and Bognar said in a statement to ET.
"We are profoundly grateful that this movie has resonated with the Academy. We, and our small but mighty team, are over the moon at today’s news. We’re deeply grateful to the amazing people at Participant Media, Higher Ground Productions and Netflix for elevating the stories of working class people. The fate of working people around the globe is under great pressure and duress, and we hope American Factory can give voice to their journey."
Upon its debut on Netflix, the former U.S. president wrote on Twitter that "a good story gives you the chance to better understand someone else's life. It can help you find common ground. And it's why Michelle and I were drawn to Higher Ground's first film, American Factory."
In a conversation with the directors, Michelle revealed that the factory workers captured on camera reminded her of "my background."
"That was my father, and that was reflected in this film," she said.
Since its release, American Factory has earned a number of accolades, including Best Documentary prizes from the Gotham Awards and Los Angeles Film Critics Associati'on Awards and nominations at the BAFTA Awards and Independent Spirit Awards.
This year's Oscar winners were announced live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, Feb. 9 starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on ABC.