american factory trailer

In 2014, a Chinese billionaire opened a car factory in the remains of an abandoned General Motors plant located in Dayton, Ohio. The plant hired two thousand locals to come work alongside transplanted Chinese workers. The East-meets-West culture clash was almost immediate. The documentary American Factory chronicles the story with potentially powerful results. Watch the American Factory trailer below.

American Factory Trailer

Whenever I think of the term “Netflix documentary,” my mind immediately conjures up images of true crime docs. Maybe I watch too many of them, or maybe Netflix just makes a bigger deal of promoting the true crime stuff they create (or purchase). But every now and then, the streaming service will release a documentary that has nothing to do with murder at all. Shocking, I know! American Factory is such a documentary.

American Factory “takes a deep dive into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant and hires two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.” The doc played at Sundance this year, where it went over well – it’s currently sitting at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, with IndieWire saying the film is “A fascinating tragicomedy about the incompatibility of American and Chinese industries.” Variety adds: “Of all the documentaries you see this year, this one most potently embodies the ever-changing sense of the words ‘Made in America.'”

The documentary comes from filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar, who shot over 1200 hours of material over a period of three years, with the footage eventually pieced together by editor Lindsay Utz. “It was a great boon to us that we had editor Lindsay Utz,” said Reichert. “She brought a different verite sensibility, and emphasized the verite scenes and build the film around that. At one point, we rented a house in Key West Florida, and we all spent every single day watching an 8-hour assembly that Lindsay had put together. We gave every scene a name, and put the cards on the wall, and figured out what were acts one, two, and three, and what were the turning points. It wasn’t the exact template, but it gave us the confidence of the acts, and the characters. But we had to decide early on this was not a character-driven film.”

American Factory will be streaming on Netflix starting August 21.

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