“American Factory,” a documentary which sparked a mix of reviews from the auto glass industry has been nominated for an Oscar. The awards ceremony will be held this weekend, but before you tune in to see how it fares, we reached out to some in the industry for their views on the film and more.
The movie was released in August 2019 on Netflix and follows automotive glass maker Fuyao Glass America (Fuyao or FGA) as it opened a U.S. plant in Moraine, Ohio, at the site of the former GM plant. Since 2014, China’s Fujian-based Fuyao Glass Industry Group has invested more than $900 million in FGA. The plant was profitable for the third consecutive year in 2019, and according to the company it isn’t stopping here.
“FGA has announced plans this year to add more than a hundred new jobs and invest over 40 million dollars. Now employing more than 2,200 local workers, FGA plans to continue to boost the percentage of local hires,” a portion of Fuyao’s release reads.
The movie however, highlighted the differences between the American and Asian cultures and how those differences can affect businesses.
“I thought it [the documentary] was great, I liked it a lot and the cultural divide is extreme. The movie was very candid and showed everything exactly as it is, there’s a sense of reality you get when watching it,” said Lyle Hill, of Keytech North America.
“I watched it. I was surprised that they allowed the filmmakers unfettered access—that took some courage. And that access certainly revealed some controversial moments that came through in the film,” said Tom Feeney, Safelite president and CEO, in a September interview. “But Fuyao has been a good partner to us, a very good partner, in fact. The cultural differences are what really came through. And some of those differences are big. I will be most curious to ask Chairman Cao about it when I see him.”
glassBYTEs blogger, David Rohlfing, recalled his time traveling to around the world to tour auto glass manufacturing facilities in the mid 1990’s. According to Rohlfing, he visited Fuyao during that time and also noticed the cultural divide.
“The Chinese plants of today depicted in the documentary are night and day different from many I visited in the 1990’s. Workers and their families lived inside some of the plants I visited. At the time it was difficult for me to comprehend as an American,” Rohlfing said. “Time obviously changed, but the work ethic of the Chinese is amazing to see.”
“Let me start by saying that in no way, shape or form should this documentary be nominated for anything but the trash can,” said David A DeWalt, Disabled American Veteran USAF, when referring to the nomination.
“To me, the movie was a net neutral— I didn’t like or dislike it, but I did find it interesting. Fuyao remains a strategic partner of ours,” said Feeney in a September interview.
Fuyao even weighed in on the award nomination and expressed delight in being nominated.
“FGA is delighted that “American Factory” by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar has been nominated for best documentary feature at the 2020 Academy Awards and hopes that the film wins the Oscar,” a portion of Fuyao’s release reads.
“Regardless of your view of the greatness of American workers, the cultural differences and employee principles that differ between Americans and the Chinese were made abundantly clear in the documentary,” said Rohlfing. “The importance of family and the value of work is of critical importance to both peoples. How we can cooperate together to build a better understanding of our individual uniqueness will take time, but the rewards for everyone working together toward similar goals will be great.”
How do you think American Factory will do in this weekend’s Oscars award ceremony? Leave your comments below and stay tuned for the results.