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American Factory (2019)

TV-14 | | Documentary | 21 August 2019 (USA)
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2:31 | Trailer
End 2008, GM closes a plant in Ohio. A Chinese billionaire/Fuyao Glass buys the plant 2014 and invests in auto glass production. There are 2000 jobs there by late 2016. USA meets PRChina.
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5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Junming 'Jimmy' Wang ... Himself - Vice President, Fuyao
Robert Allen ... Himself - Furnace Off-Loader (as Bobby)
Sherrod Brown ... Himself - U.S. Senator, Ohio
Dave Burrows ... Himself - Vice President, Fuyao Glass America
Austin Cole ... Himself - Tempering Backlight Production Supervisor
John Crane ... Himself - Fuyao Safety Director
John Gauthier John Gauthier ... Himself - President, Fuyao Glass America
Rob Haerr ... Himself - Furnace Supervisor
Cynthia Harper ... Herself - Lamination Specialist
Wong He ... Himself - Furance Engineer
Timi Jernigan ... Himself - Furnance Technician
Jill Lamantia ... Herself - Forklift Operator
Jeff Daochuan Liu ... Himself - President, Fuyao Glass America
Shawnea Rosser ... Herself - Glass Inspector
Rebecca Ruan-O'Shaughnessy Rebecca Ruan-O'Shaughnessy ... Herself - Fuyao Attorney
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Storyline

In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America. Written by Production

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Cultures collide. Hope survives.

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 August 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American Factory See more »

Filming Locations:

Moraine, Ohio, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first film released from the new production company Higher Ground, founded by former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. See more »

Connections

References Norma Rae (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

 
two sides of failure
22 August 2019 | by ferguson-6See all my reviews

Greetings again from the darkness. In December 2008, General Motors shut down their truck plant in Dayton, Ohio, putting approximately 2000 employees out of work. Six years later, Chairman Cao Dewang, the founder of Fuyao Glass, invested millions to turn the shell of the plant into a retro-fitted factory and the first U.S. operation for his company - a company he claims owns 70% of the auto glass market. In doing so, the factory hired approximately 1000 locals, many of whom had not had consistent work since the GM plant closed years prior.

Co-directors Steven Bognar and Julie Reichert share an Oscar nomination (she has 3 total) for their 2009 documentary short, THE LAST TRUCK: CLOSING OF A GM PLANT. This time out, they have impressive access to a remarkable situation: a successful Chinese company opening a factory in the United States, and attempting to merge two distinctly different cultures. We hear much these days about globalization, and by the end of the film, you'll likely be re-defining the word.

This unique business model came with good intentions on both sides. The differences that start out as kind of funny and well-intentioned turn into hurdles that are nearly impossible to manage. Fuyao ships many workers from China to Dayton for the training of U.S. workers. These 'temporary' transplants must spend two years away from their family as they try to make sense of an unfamiliar land far different from home. Workshops are held for the Chinese workers as they are lectured on what makes Americans different ... they don't work as hard, they don't dress well, they talk too much on the job, they won't work overtime, etc. The Chinese blatantly state that they are superior to American workers - a point that's difficult to argue against when it comes to dedication, quality, and efficiency. We soon learn there is more to the picture.

U.S. labor and safety laws exist for a reason, and the Chinese company neither understands these, nor is very willing to abide by them. Additionally, since this is the 'rust belt', the shadow of unionization hovers from day one. While China's Workers' Union functions in sync with companies, U.S. labor unions are regularly in conflict with companies here. When the U.S. supervisors make a training and observation trip to China to see the Fuyao factory, the differences become even more obvious. The mostly overweight Americans show up casual - one even in a JAWS t-shirt - while the lean and fit Chinese are all in fine suits and ties. Morning shift routines are also contrasted to point out the gaps in discipline and attention to details.

What the filmmakers do best is allow us to see both sides of the issue. Surely the right thing to do is obvious when it comes to safety, and when Chairman Cao says the real purpose in life is one's work, well, we realize these two cultures are farther apart than the 7000 miles that separate them. It's a fair look at both sides, but for those who say U.S. companies are too focused on profit, they'll likely be surprised to learn that Chinese factory workers typically get 1 or 2 days off from work each month! As one of the dismissed American managers states, you can't spell Fuyao with "fu". The film seems to present a debate with lines drawn via citizenship and culture, and the contrast might be more relevant today than ever before.


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