Obamas announce 7 projects with Netflix

The Obamas and Netflix just announced the first slate of series and films being produced for the by Higher Ground Productions for the streaming service. The former president and first lady launched Higher Ground Productions last year, and they expect to make even more project announcements in the coming months, Netflix said in a press release.

Mr. Obama said Higher Ground was created to “harness the power of storytelling,” and the projects they chose have a purpose: “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,” he said in the statement.

The Obamas launched Higher Ground Productions after leaving the White House.

Mrs. Obama said the productions have something for everyone. “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,” the former first lady said.

The co-heads of Higher Ground, Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis, said the company’s first seven projects encompass “a wide range of fiction and non-fiction signature productions for all audiences including scripted, unscripted and documentary series, as well as full-length features and documentaries.” 

Here’s a look at what they have in the works:

1. “American Factory”

“American Factory,” a film by Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winners Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, was acquired by Netflix in association with Higher Ground Productions. The film, which was featured at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, “takes a deep dive into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant and hires two thousand blue-collar Americans,” according to the press release.

2. “Bloom”

“Bloom” is a post-WWII film about “barriers faced by women and by people of color in an era marked by hurdles but also tremendous progress.”

3. Frederick Douglass biopic

High Ground is producing the adaptation of “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. The book by David W. Blight earned the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History. 

4. “Overlooked” series

High Ground is also developing The New York Times’ obituary column “Overlooked,” into a scripted anthology series. The ongoing column tells “stories of remarkable people” – including many women and minorities – whose accomplishments and lives did not get the recognition they deserved in their own time.

5. “Listen to Your Vegetables and Eat Your Parents”

“Listen to Your Vegetables and Eat Your Parents,” created by Jeremy Konner (“Drunk History”) and Erika Thormahlen, will be Higher Ground’s family-friend series. The half-hour show geared toward pre-school-age kids travels the globe to show viewers the story of food. 

6. “Fifth Risk”

“Fifth Risk” is a non-fiction series based on “The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy,” a book by best-selling author Michael Lewis (“The Big Short,” “Moneyball”).

7. “Crip Camp”

This feature-length documentary looks at a summer camp for disabled teenagers near Woodstock. In 1970s, the camp “would transform young lives, and America forever by helping to set in motion the disability rights movement.” The documentary, which was acquired earlier this year by Higher Ground and Netflix, is directed by former camper Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham.

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