Barack and Michelle Obama announce first slate of Netflix TV and film projects

Spanning from feature-length documentary series to drama anthologies, the Obamas are heading up seven Netflix projects

Former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle arrive at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, Illinois, October 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jim Young        (Photo credit should read JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)

After rumours of their “storytelling partnership” were confirmed in May, Barack and Michelle Obama have announced their first slate of projects for Netflix.

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Through their production company Higher Ground, they two have unveiled seven projects – from scripted docuseries, full-length features and documentaries – that will touch on “issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights, and much more”.

And those projects are:

  • American Factory – This documentary 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 2,000 blue-collar Americans.
  • Bloom – A drama series set in the world of fashion in post-WWII New York City, this show explores the barriers faced by women and minorities.
  • Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom ­­– This feature film will be an adaptation of the book of the same name, which won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History. Douglass was a US social reformer who became a national leader of the slavery abolition movement.
  • Overlooked ­– Based on The New York Times’ ongoing obituary column, this scripted anthology drama will explore the remarkable deaths that were not reported by the newspaper at the time.
  • Listen To Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents – A family friendly series aimed at pre-school children, it will take viewers “around the globe on an adventure that tells us the story of our food”.
  • Fifth Risk – A non-fiction series, the show will be based on Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, the book from Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of The Big Short and Moneyball. It will explore the “importance of unheralded work done by everyday heroes guiding our government and safeguarding our nation”.
  • Crip Camp – This feature-length documentary film focuses on a 1970s summer camp for disabled teenagers that would transform young lives, and America forever by helping to set in motion the disability rights movement.

“We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects,” Barack Obama said. “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,” Michelle Obama added.

“We think there’s something here for everyone— mums 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.”

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The Higher Ground projects are currently in development and will be released over the next several years.