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Obamas’ production company with Netflix announces new shows, movies

Barack and Michelle Obama have announced a slate of six new projects as part of their lucrative multi-year deal with Netflix, revealing that they will lead production on a variety of new TV shows and movies, including a film about the first man to summit Mt. Everest.  

Higher Ground Productions, which the former first couple founded in 2018 partnership with Netflix, revealed that it is currently working on varied line-up of four new films and two more TV series.

Among them are a docuseries about national parks, a science-fiction movie, and a TV show based on a young adult thriller about a Native American teen who goes undercover.

Coming! Higher Ground Productions, which President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama formed in partnership with Netflix, announced a new lineup today

‘We created Higher Ground to tell great stories,’ the Obamas said in a press release. ‘This group of projects builds upon that goal and the incredible path forged by films like “Crip Camp,” “Becoming,” and the Oscar-winning “American Factory.”‘ 

‘From science fiction to the beauty of our natural world to the relationships that define us, Higher Ground continues to strive for fresh perspectives, compelling characters, and a healthy dose of inspiration,’ the couple continued.

‘We couldn’t be more proud to team up with the brilliant artists behind each of these stories. Each of them has something important to say.’ 

Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, of Netflix, added: ‘”American Factory,” “Crip Camp,” and “Becoming” have captivated audiences all around the world, and their new slate highlights the variety and depth of programming on the horizon as well as new and exciting storytellers.’  

Below, see the new movies and TV shows the Obamas are bringing to Netflix in the next few years. 

Inspiration: Projects include Tenzing, a film based on the true story of Tenzing Norgay (second from right), the first man to summit Mr. Everest, with Sir Edmund Hillary (second from left)

Inspiration: Projects include Tenzing, a film based on the true story of Tenzing Norgay (second from right), the first man to summit Mr. Everest, with Sir Edmund Hillary (second from left)

Pictured: Tenzing Norgay pictured on the Summit of Mount Everest in 1953

The movie is to be directed by BAFTA nominee Jennifer Peedom — who has climbed Everest herself

Story: The movie about Norgay, pictured left on the Summit of Mount Everest in 1953, will be produced by BAFTA nominee Jennifer Peedom, right, who has climbed Everest herself 

Tenzing 

‘Tenzing’ is inspired by the true story of the first man to reach the top of Mr. Everest, Tenzing Norgay, who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary. 

The movie is based on the book ‘Tenzing: Hero of Everest,’ while the script was written by Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner Luke Davies. It will be directed by BAFTA nominee Jennifer Peedom — who has climbed Everest herself. 

Satellite 

There’s also ‘Satellite,’ a science fiction film written by Ola Shokunbi and produced by Kiri Hart and Stephen Feder for Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman’s T Street. 

The Young Wife 

This movie will be written and directed by Tayarisha Poe.

It ‘follows Celestina, 29, on the day of her first wedding. Or not a wedding, exactly, but a party. A party where there’s movement, and Celestina is out of sync. The guests flood in; a storm approaches.’  

Read up! The upcoming film 'Exit West' is  based on a novel of the same name by Mohsin Hamid — which President Obama named as one of the best books he read in 2017

A series called 'Firekeeper's Daughter' is based on a YA novel by Angeline Boulley

Read up! The upcoming film ‘Exit West’ is  based on a novel of the same name by Mohsin Hamid (left), while a series called ‘Firekeeper’s Daughter’ is based on a YA novel by Angeline Boulley

Exist West

A rather timely film on the docket is ‘Exit West,’ based on a novel of the same name by Mohsin Hamid — which President Obama named as one of the best books he read in 2017.

The novel is about Nadia and Saeed, who fall in love while chaos and violence spread in their country. Together, they flee west as refugees. 

Riz Ahmed is set to star. 

Great National Parks 

As for TV series, viewers can expect a natural history show called ‘Great National Parks,’ which will ‘explore some of the most wondrous national parks and wild spaces on Earth’ and ‘illustrate the importance of protecting the world’s remaining wildernesses and making them accessible for all.’ 

Firekeeper’s Daughter 

The Obamas really got ahead of the game ‘Firekeeper’s Daughter,’ which is based on a YA novel by Angeline Boulley that hasn’t even come out yet. (It’s expected to be published this spring).

‘Firekeeper’s Daughter’ is about an 18-year-old Native American teen who lives on the Ojibwe reservation and goes undercover in a police investigation.

Both author Boulley and series co-writer Wenonah Wilms are from the Ojibwe tribe. 

Past projects: President Obama is pictured with Andraéa LaVant, a disability advocate and consultant on the documentary Crip Camp

Past projects: President Obama is pictured with Andraéa LaVant, a disability advocate and consultant on the documentary Crip Camp 

The announcement comes just two-and-a-half months after the production company revealed it was working on two other projects.

One is the comedy series ‘The G Word with Adam Conover,’ which is loosely inspired by Michael Lewis’ bestselling book ‘The Fifth Risk.’

Barack and Michelle acquired the rights to Lewis' book back in 2018

Barack and Michelle acquired the rights to Lewis’ book back in 2018

The Obamas acquired the rights to Lewis’ book in 2018. Lewis is also the best-selling author of The Big Short and Moneyball, which have both become revered movies. 

‘The Fifth Risk’ explores the political appointments of the Trump presidency and the effects they had on various departments.

The series will also offer documentary elements as viewers learn more about the civil servants who work behind the scenes in government. 

It was created by Fair Point and will be run by Conover, along with Jon Cohen and Jon Wolf.  

Also in November’s announcement was an upcoming preschool animated series called ‘Ada Twist, Scientist.’ 

They will both join the three projects that Higher Ground Productions have already produced, including the documentary capturing Michelle’s book tour for ‘Becoming’. 

Another, ‘Crip Camp’ — a documentary about a summer camp for teens with disabilities — has already won the 2021 International Documentary Association award for Best Feature. 

Previouly released: 'American Factory' tells the story of a Chinese billionaire who opened a new factory in an abandoned General Motors plant in Ohio

Previouly released: ‘American Factory’ tells the story of a Chinese billionaire who opened a new factory in an abandoned General Motors plant in Ohio

Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert (front left to right) pose with the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for American Factory with presenter Mark Ruffalo cheering behind at the Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last night

Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert (front left to right) pose with the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for American Factory with presenter Mark Ruffalo cheering behind at the Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last night 

The Obamas congratulated filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar on the film's success

The Obamas congratulated filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar on the film’s success

Finally, ‘American Factory’ documented how employees at a former General Motors plant in Moraine, just outside Dayton, Ohio, suffered the impact of globalization following the closure of the glass manufacturing site in 2008.

The documentary picked up after the plant after it was bought by a Chinese billionaire. 

It won the Academy Award for best documentary in 2020, and former President Barack Obama congratulated filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar on the film’s success.

He tweeted: ‘Congrats to Julia and Steven, the filmmakers behind American Factory, for telling such a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change. Glad to see two talented and downright good people take home the Oscar for Higher Ground’s first release.’


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