American Factory – Review [Hot Docs 2019]

American Factory screened at this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival, and will hit Netflix later this year.

[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]

By David Cuevas

From Union Maids to GM plants, Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar are best known for their unique style and advocation for the average American. With their latest venture, American Factory, not only are their pre-existing skill-set in full force, but their startling voice for change is one that will create a buzz later on this awards season. Humorous and informative, American Factory highlights the birth of Fuyao in America, a glass production company, which took over the abandoned General Motors factory in Dayton, Ohio.

The film is essentially a sequel of sorts to The Last Truck, a film which the duo produced a decade prior. American Factory shows all sides of the spectrums, with a key element of Culture Clash, remaining as one of the most essential motifs in the film. Demonstrating the fight for unions, wages, and efficient work, there’s a unique unbiased angle to the film, that never feels more lenient to one side, than it does the other. A particular scene involving New year’s in China, is equal parts insightful and enlightening when showing both the Chinese and Americans reactions to their on indifferent customs.

American Factory unfortunately ends on a bit of a complex note. Although key principal narratives are solved, there’s still plenty up in the air to determine, based on the film’s conclusion. In other terms, don’t be surprised if Reicher and Bognar produce a sequel to American Factory in 2029, as part of a new documentary trilogy. All in all, American Factory rules with its extreme levity for culture and workplace unity. Albeit the film’s contrived timelines and incomplete conclusion, American Factory offers much more than what’s on paper, with an awesome soundtrack included.

I give American Factory a B+.

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