Barack and Michelle Obama‘s Higher Ground Productions, the company they created in partnership with Netflix, has finally unveiled its initial slate of projects. Ranging from scripted and unscripted content, including feature-length films and documentaries, they include a Frederick Douglass biopic and a period drama set in the fashion world penned by Callie Khouri.
The announcement was made by Priya Swaminathan and Tonia Davis, co-heads of the organisation. Seven projects are currently in various stages of development. The aforementioned Douglass biopic is a feature adaptation of David W. Blight‘s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.
Khouri’s fashion series is titled Bloom, a drama set in post-WWII New York City that depicts barriers faced by women and by people of colour in an era characterised by both hurdles and progress. Khouri will write and executive produce based on an idea developed by her, Clement Virgo, and novelist Juliana Maio.
Other projects include the documentary American Factory, which was acquired by Higher Ground after screening at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
The film dives deep into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in an abandoned General Motors plant and hires 2000 blue-collar Americans. However, optimistic early days give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.
There’s also a currently untitled project based on the New York Times’ obituary column, Overlooked. The project tells the stories of remarkable people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper. It is being developed as a scripted anthology series.
There’s also pre-school content from Drunk History creators in the works, and another documentary titled Crip Camp, which focuses on a ramshackle summer camp developed in the 70s for teenagers with disabilities, which would set in motion the disability rights movement.
And finally, there’s an adaptation of Michael Lewis‘ (The Big Short, Moneyball) latest book, The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy. It will be a non-fiction series, focusing on the importance of unheralded work done by everyday heroes.
In a statement, Barack Obama said: “We created Higher Ground to harness the power of storytelling. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited about these projects. 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”.
Michelle added: “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”.
Since launching Higher Ground last spring, the former President and First Lady have clearly been putting in work finding an exciting and informative set of projects. The partnership with Netflix should benefit both parties tremendously as well. As mentioned, the projects are in various stages of development right now, but will be released over the next several years.