Barack and Michelle Obama's production company unveils slate of docs, series for Netflix
The Obamas have been keeping busy with life post-White House, as they lifted the lid on their anticipated original content in development on Tuesday, unveiling an early slate of shows and films that tie in to the former President and First Lady’s interests in examining and championing diverse stories.
Barack and Michelle Obama‘s company Higher Ground Productions announced seven projects, scheduled to be developed and released in the coming years. These include American Factory, a documentary from this year’s Sundance Film Festival that examines the clash of cultures in Ohio when a Chinese billionaire sets up a new factory in the old General Motors plant and hires some 2,000 blue-collar Americans. The film was acquired by Higher Ground Productions in partnership with Netflix, where the Obamas have a content deal.
Crip Camp is also a documentary acquired by Higher Ground and Netflix, currently in production with support from the Sundance Institute. It will follow a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers in the early 1970s that helped set in motion the disability rights movement in America.
“We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects,” President Obama said in a statement from Higher Ground. “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.”
Michelle Obama added: “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.”
Other projects include a non-fiction series based on Michael Lewis’ best-selling Fifth Risk book, a damning examination of the Trump administration’s impact on America’s key government agencies; Bloom, a period drama exploring the upstairs-downstairs worlds of women and people of color in a post-WWII New York; a scripted anthology series called Overlooked, based on the New York Times‘ obituary column about people whose deaths were not initially reported by the paper; a feature film adaptation of author David W. Blight’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.
There is also a preschool series with the fun title Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents, described as taking young children and their families on a global adventure to learn where their food comes from, a project closely connected with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative that she spearheaded during her tenure as First Lady to get all Americans more access and education to eating and living healthily.
The Obamas launched Higher Ground Productions last year, headed up by Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis, to create scripted and unscripted content in partnership with Netflix.