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Thursday September 19th 2019

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American Factory: A Look at Work of Tomorrow

by Abby Koch--Different cultures and factory workstyles clash in the Netflix documentary American Factory. The film follows the conflicts of an automotive glass factory and hints at the future of factory work.

The documentary is by veteran documentarians Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert. American Factory is the first film from the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground.

American Factory takes place in Dayton, Ohio, after GM closes the factory and fires thousands of employees. A couple years later, a Chinese automotive glass company called Fuyao re-opens the factory. Daytonians become hopeful about the work and the possible opportunities.

Two of the Fuyao employees featured in the documentary

The hopeful feelings disappear as the working conditions worsen and conflicted ideals on what factory work should look like. The Chinese workers that are working in the Ohio factory and the American workers struggle to get the job done because of their differences. As time goes on, the initial American management team is fired and employees are pushed to their physical limits.

The documentary shows the American workers forming a union, the working conditions in China and in Dayton, and the small occurrences of understanding different cultures. The documentary concludes on how Fuyao was slowly switching from human worker to automation.

American Factory is very much a story about both sides. Viewers can see which side they will personally agree with, but it pushes them to hear the other.

Bognar and Reichert did an amazing job in capturing what work is like in the factory in Dayton, but also in China. They give viewers a look at how a Chinese factory worker views the company as the number one thing to support or their corporate anthems. Showing this as a comparison to the Dayton/American factory reveals the contrast between locations and ideals.

American Factory could have spent more time with certain employees to hear more of their story. I wish I could have heard more of Wong He’s story; he is one of the Chinese workers that was sent here. I personally wanted to see if he fully grasped the American dream because of the time he spent in America.

American Factory gives an insight of what work will look like in the future and the impact foreign industry is having in America. It is an eye-opening documentary to see cultures clashing while trying to get the job done. I highly recommend American Factory if you want to see what the future of industry is looking like and an intense culture clash.

American Factory gets 8/10 corporate anthems.