Netflix Just Bought The Barack Obama-led Documentary

By Carolyn Jenkins | 3 months ago

barack obama

Netflix continues to be on the cutting edge of content, invested in releasing the most binge-worthy shows. Dramas such as season 2 of Bridgerton will be hitting screens soon, but that’s not all the streaming platform has in store. Netflix also deals in more serious fare, including an up-and-coming documentary from Barack Obama. Obama’s production company has been busy in the last couple of years and promises another project entitled Descendant. The Hollywood Reporter has indicated that the documentary will cover the titular descendants of slaves brought to America on the last slave ship.

Descendant will follow the community of Africatown, Alabama whose ancestors were taken 40 years after slavery was deemed illegal (via Variety). Though the existence of the ship has been denied for some time, marine archeologists have confirmed the truth of the ship. The Netflix film is directed by Margaret Brown who states that she is “humbled and honored” after working tirelessly with the Africatown community. The personal stories of the community aim to reclaim their story as well as draw parallels to the ongoing conversation today.

Barack Obama isn’t the only big name attached to the Netflix film. Other notable artists involved include Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter. The two musicians have joined Obama on the producing level. Descendant has come about with the help of Obama’s production company Higher Ground. Higher Ground has helped produce additional Netflix films with significant subject matter such as American Factory (via The Hollywood Reporter.) The film gained traction, especially after its 2020 Academy Award win for best documentary (per Variety).


American Factory centers around the story of Chinese billionaire Cao Dewang who restored a former GM plant in Ohio into a windshield factory. The film depicts American and Chinese factory employees working together amid all the complications that come with it. Co-director Julia Reichert had been nominated for an Oscar three times before and finally won for the Netflix film. This was especially significant as the director was diagnosed with terminal cancer. American Factory is another addition to the Obama initiative to produce diverse stories, including scripted and unscripted content (via Indie Wire).

The Obamas do not just have their hands in the world of Netflix. Higher Ground has also gotten into producing podcasts. Just hitting Spotify on January 12th, they have also produced a podcast called The Big Hit Show. Variety reports that the podcast is in an audio documentary format, discussing all elements of pop culture.  With that in mind, it is no wonder that the first batch of episodes The Big Hit Show will be releasing is about YA romance Twilight.

Though the films had concluded in 2013, Twilight has had a resurgence due to its availability on Netflix and catapulted the careers of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. The four-film series is prime to be analyzed with current culture’s focus on toxic dynamics (via In Style). Those interviewed include Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the first Twilight film and contains many tidbits never heard before (via Teen Vogue). The Obamas continue to prove that they have their finger on the pulse of pop culture.