Clashes of culture give rise to great stories, as well as conflict. The documentary American Factory (美国工厂) tells such a story, a dreary yet hopeful one — all around the metaphor of manufacturing glass.
As a Mandarin student, you’ve probably experienced lots of culture clashes in China, both interesting and confusing, sometimes upsetting. Now imagine a Chinese businessman buying an American factory in Ohio, with Chinese and Americans working alongside, making car glass. Are the Americans lazy and unproductive? Are the Chinese out of place?
The differences between American and Chinese working standards instantly become obvious — upsetting as well as comical. The Chinese are used to working 6 or 7 days a week, sleeping in dormitories, and seeing their children perhaps once a year. Meanwhile, the Americans are trying to work in a union and demand safer working conditions. How does the Chinese factory owner respond?
The documentary features lots of spoken Mandarin, so it’s a great chance to practise your Chinese listening too. It was released in 2019 and was produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions, and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
You can find it on Netflix — as well as some other channels.
No Netflix? No problem: Get a Netflix gift card from us, and a Mandarin class for your friends:
Get your friends to learn Mandarin too. Rewards await