From class to race to food, here's all the things the Obamas-Netflix deal will be bringing to our screens
On Tuesday, Michelle and Barack Obama's production company, Higher Ground Productions, announced seven films and series that the former POTUS said will not only entertain but also "educate, connect and inspire us all."
Eleven months ago, the Obamas struck a multiyear production deal with Netflix to produce shows and films. The list of content comprises a wide range of fiction and nonfiction signature productions for audiences across demographics. Scripted, unscripted, documentary series, full-length features and documentaries are also a part of the deal. The projects are scheduled to release over the next couple of years.
President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have entered into a multi-year agreement to produce films and series for Netflix, potentially including scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries, and features.— Netflix US (@netflix) May 21, 2018
"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," said Barack in a statement.
“We love this slate because it spans so many different interests and experiences, yet it’s all woven together with stories that are relevant to our daily lives. We think there’s something here for everyone – moms and dads, curious kids, and anyone simply looking for an engaging, uplifting watch at the end of a busy day. We can’t wait to see these projects come to life – and the conversations they’ll generate," Michelle Obama also said in the statement.
Here is an early look at the shows and films that the Obama are making with Netflix.
'American Factory' will be the production company's first release. Helmed by Participant Media, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, the film was first premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival - where it won the Directing Award: US Documentary. The official synopsis of the film is: "In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America."
In April 2019, the film also won the Best Documentary Feature Award at the RiverRun International Film Festival.
According to Higher Ground Productions, 'Overlooked' is an adaptation of a New York Times ongoing recurring feature called 'Overlooked'. It is a series of obituaries and tells the stories of remarkable people whose deaths were previously not reported by the newspapers. According to the New York Times website, "Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. Now, we’re adding the stories of other remarkable people."
To give you an idea of what the series will entail, some of the obituaries on the section include that of Ida B. Wells (1862-1931), who took on racism in the Deep South with powerful reporting on lynchings, Qiu Jin (C. 1875-1907), who was a feminist poet and revolutionary who became a martyr known as China’s ‘Joan of Arc,' and Mary Ewing Outerbridge (1852-1886), who established what may have been America’s first tennis court in the 1870s.
Higher Ground is developing 'Overlooked' with producers Liza Chasin of 3dot Productions and Joy Gorman Wettels of Anonymous Content.
Set in the fashion world in post-WWII New York City, 'Bloom' is an upstairs/downstairs drama series that shows the hurdles that women and people of color had to face. At the same time, the series also documents the tremendous progress in the same era. The series is written and executive produced by Oscar winner Callie Khouri (from an idea developed by Khouri) writer-director Clement Virgo (The Book of Negroes, The Wire, Empire) and novelist and producer Juliana Maio (City of the Sun). Higher Ground Productions, Khouri, Virgo and Maio will executive produce the series. Khouri also wrote 'Thelma & Louise'.
Adaptation of 'Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom'
Higher Ground is producing a feature film adaptation of 'Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom', for which author David W. Blight won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History.
Douglas was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. He became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, after escaping slavery in Maryland. He grew popular for his oratory and incisive anti-slavery writings. While Higher Grounds did not announce a screenwriter or any producers for this show, we know this one cannot be missed.
'The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy'
Higher Ground will develop a nonfiction series from Michael Lewis' 'Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy,' the 'Moneyball' author's 2018 best-seller about government servants working under the political appointees of Donald Trump's administration. The aim is to portray the importance of unheralded work done by everyday heroes guiding the American government.
'Crip Camp' is a feature documentary film about the origins of the disability rights movement. The film is supported by the Sundance Institute and acquired by Higher Ground and Netflix this year.
Official synopsis of the film says: "A look at the lives of those who attended a summer camp for disabled teenagers held just down the road from Woodstock, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. 'Crip Camp' shows how this camp for disabled teenagers would tranform young lives and America, by setting in motion the disability rights movement." The film is directed by former camper Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham. Producers include Newnham, LeBrecht and Sara Bolder, with executive producer Howard Gertler.
'Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents'
'Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents' is a half-hour family-programming series for preschoolers that will “take young children and their families around the globe on an adventure that tells us the story of our food.”
The series comes from creators Jeremy Konner ('Drunk History') and Erika Thormahlen.