EXCLUSIVE: The Sundance deals keep coming, heading into the festival’s closing awards. Netflix is on the verge of making its second Sundance deal, acquiring world rights on American Factory, the film that is directed by Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert, and premiered last Friday at the Prospector Square Theater, in the U.S. Documentary Competition. Deal is under $3 million.
It becomes the second significant docu deal for Netflix at Sundance, after it beat out several suitors for Knock Down The House, the docu that captured Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other women around the country who for person reasons ran against the incumbents for congressional seats around the country.
Here’s the logline for American Factory: In 2014, a Chinese billionaire opened a Fuyao factory in a shuttered General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio. For thousands of locals, the arrival of this multinational car-glass manufacturer meant regaining their jobs—and dignity—after the recession left them high and dry. American Factory takes us inside the facility to observe what happens when workers from profoundly different cultures collide.
At first, the culture clash is humorous. Transplanted Chinese workers attend trainings on dealing with their peculiarly casual and “chatty” American counterparts. But tensions mount. Slack safety standards and meager wages ignite serious doubts among the American rank and file. Low productivity and talk of unionization trigger a cascade of controls from Chinese management. Meanwhile, something ominous—the specter of job loss from automation—looms.
The filmmakers capture every key moment in this high-stakes intercultural chess game, revealing how American and Chinese workers view themselves within systems of authority. It’s a collision of the future of American labor and Chinese economic dominance, all within the confines of a factory in Ohio.
The film was financed by Participant Media and is produced by Bognar, Reichert, Jeff Reichert and Julie Parker Benello. The co-producers are Mijie Li and Yiqian Zhang, with Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann the exec producers.
Submarine’s Josh Braun brokered the deal.