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With its first film out of the gate, the Obamas’ production company can now add “Oscar nominee” to its bio.
Netflix’s Obama-backed American Factory earned a best documentary nomination for the 2020 Academy Awards on Monday. The nomination goes to the film’s producers Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert — a team that Michelle Obama quickly congratulated Monday.
“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. See for yourself now on
@Netflix,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Glad to see American Factory’s Oscar nod for Best Documentary,” the former president added in response. “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!”
American Factory is the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground production company. The film, about a Chinese entrepreneur billionaire coming to blue-collar America and offering jobs at a reopened Ohio automotive plant, serves as an examination of power. American Factory was produced with Participant Media and has received critical acclaim and awards recognition since its August 2019 release.
American Factory was among Barack Obama’s list of favorite films of 2019, along the likes of other Oscar-nominated titles The Irishman, Parasite, Ford v Ferrari, Little Women and Marriage Story. “Of course, there’s also American Factory, a film from our own production company, Higher Ground, that was recently shortlisted for an Oscar,” he noted in his announcement ahead of the new year.
Marking their first big move after exiting the White House in 2017, the Obamas announced an unprecedented multiyear pact with Netflix to produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docuseries, documentaries and features under their Higher Ground Productions banner.
American Factory was their first release. Higher Ground had set an initial slate of seven projects that are in various stages of development, including three features and four TV series.
“We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects,” said Barack Obama earlier this year about their mission statement. “Touching on issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights, and much more, we believe each of these productions won’t just entertain, but will educate, connect and inspire us all.”
The 92nd Academy Awards, set to be a hostless ceremony for the second consecutive year, will take place at The Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Feb. 9.
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