President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground Productions has announced (30) an initial slate with Netflix, including Sundance entry American Factory, and scripted anthology series Overlooked.
The roster encompasses projects in various stages of development and production, covering fiction and documentary features and scripted, unscripted and documentary series, to be released over the next several years.
Participant Media’s Sundance documentary U.S. Documentary directing award winner American Factory from Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, about culture clashes when a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in Ohio.
Postwar fashion world drama Bloom that depicts barriers faced by women and by people of colour, with Callie Khouri on board as writer and executive producer, from an idea she developed with Clement Virgo and novellist and producer Juliana Maio.
A feature adaptation of David W. Blight’s 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning history of American life, Frederick Douglass: Prophet Of Freedom.
Scripted anthology series Overlooked, adapted from The New York Times’ ongoing obituary column that tells the stories of people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper, Higher Ground is developing with producers Liza Chasin of 3dot Productions, and Joy Gorman Wettels of Anonymous Content.
Half-hour pre-school series Listen To Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents from creators Jeremy Konner and Erika Thormahlen.
Non-fiction series Fifth Risk from Michael Lewis’ book The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy about the transition of the Trump presidency and the work of three US government agencies.
In-production feature documentary Crip Camp supported by Sundance Institute, and chronicling a 1970s summer camp just down the road from Woodstock that kindled the disability rights movement. Former camper Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham are directing, and the producers include Newnham, LeBrecht and Sara Bolder, with executive producer Howard Gertler.
“We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects,” said President Obama. “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.”
“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,” said Michelle Obama. “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.”
“President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and the Higher Ground team are building a company focused on storytelling that exemplifies their core values,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “The breadth of their initial slate across series, film, documentary and family programming shows their commitment to diverse creators and unique voices that will resonate with our members around the world.”
The Obamas launched Higher Ground last spring to create content “that embodies the core values of celebrating the human spirit through struggles and triumph”. Higher Ground Productions co-heads Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis announced the slate on Tuesday (30).