Feature: Documentary on US-China manufacture cooperation to premier on Netflix

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-21 18:17:58|Editor: xuxin
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- "American Factory," a poignant documentary telling a true story in which U.S. workers and Chinese managers worked side-by-side in a new Chinese-owned factory established on the site of former General Motors (GM) plant in Dayton of Ohio, will premier Wednesday on Netflix.

This film, produced by Participant Media and released through former U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's Netflix output deal, is an inspiring work of Emmy-award winning and Oscar-nominated documentarians, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, Ohio's "Godparents of Independent film."

The filmmaking duo first documented the factory with their 40-minute, Oscar-nominated short, "The Last Truck," which chronicled the closing of the GM factory in 2008 that left its 2000 workers they laid off in severe economic hardship.

Many of the plant's workers remained jobless and struggled to make ends meet until a successful Chinese investor Cao Dewang purchased the deserted GM facility and build a branch of Fuyao Glass, his successful auto-glass manufacturing company.

Local residents saw the Chinese arrival as a ray of hope in an otherwise bleak economically-challenged landscape.

"I have struggled to get back to the middle class," said a worker hit hard by the closure of the GM plant. She was reduced to living in her sister's basement when her own house was foreclosed. Most of her co-workers share similar fate and many of them are still unemployed.

To put things in perspective, 40 to 45 million Americans are estimated to be living below the federal poverty line, according to the 2017 annual report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"The arrival of the Chinese company brought an overwhelming sense of hope and optimism to the entire community," said Julia Reichert at a recent screening, who lives outside of Dayton and documented the GM plant when it closed.

Factory-owner Cao said at the ribbon-cutting opening ceremony of the US-based factory that he expected to hire 5000 workers, mostly Americans and some Chinese, in the next few years, who would work under the supervision of Chinese managers.

"We are melding two different cultures -- the Chinese and the American," said a Fuyao executive in the film.

In many ways, the changes on the factory floor is a reflection in miniature of the global socio-economic shifts which see American economic power and job opportunities on the wane as China has been on the rise with a hard working workforce willing to work more hours to get the job done.

"Startup teams in China routinely work 12 hours per day (9am to 9pm), six days a week, which is termed as '996', as it's commonly referred to in the U.S. tech circles," Rebecca Fannin of Silicon Dragon, author and China expert, pointed out in her most recent book, "Tech Titans of China."

"There was a real sense of mission. It was a national mission," co-director Bognar said of the Chinese workers he observed on a research trip to the Fuyao headquarters in China,

"We are honored and thrilled that Netflix and Higher Ground are teaming up to bring 'American Factory' to the world," Bognar said.

"We're excited about the national and global conversations we believe this film can spark. The film will be heard about and talked about in a much wider world than otherwise," he added.