‘American Factory’ Review: How an East-West Labor Experiment Went South

It was going to save Moraine, Ohio — that was the plan. The small town outside of Dayton had revolved around a General Motors plant the way a planet orbits around a sun. Then the factory closed two days before Christmas in 2008, the community took a major hit and the truly tough times began. Six years later, however, hope arrived in the unlikely form of the Fuyao Glass Industry Group, a Chinese manufacturing company. They were looking to expand their presence in America, and the old G.M. plant seemed like the perfect location. Local workers were hired to supplement the Chinese workers the company had brought over (or maybe it was vice versa?), and within roughly six months, the Fuyao Glass America would begin producing automobile windshields en masse. An internationally sponsored rust-belt utopia was right around the corner.

Documentarians Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert knew this area intimately; the duo had chronicled the original plant’s final days in an Oscar-nominated 2009 short titled The Last Truck. Going back to Moraine to record the city’s industrial rebirth felt like coming full circle, though not even these veteran vérité filmmakers probably knew what they would be walking into. The winner of the Documentary Best Directing award at this year’s Sundance and the first shingle-hanging project for the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions, American Factory starts as a portrait of a two-way social experiment — a mutually beneficial mix of helping hands and open palms, both calloused from labor. It ends as a testament to the immutable characters of two national identities, the common ground of global-corporate meat grinders and the notion that some gaps simply can’t be bridged. What we have here in this extraordinary case study is not just a failure to communicate but a profound cross-cultural misunderstanding. And like all of the truly great docs of the past 50 years, its ability to contain multitudes within a single captured moment speaks volumes.

There are hints of turmoil to come in a few tiny tremors near the outset: Fuyao Chairman Cao Dewang casually orders that a lobby’s fire alarms be moved, despite the fact that they’re at a regulatory height; a question about unions at a hiring meeting prompts a smiling but firm response from a recruitment rep. The idea to pair a Chinese supervisor with an American worker is supposed to foster a sense of camaraderie and catch folks up to how the company does business. Transplanted Fuyao employees are regaled with tales of Americans’ blunt honesty and told that in this country, “you can even joke about the President and no one will do anything to you.” (The shot of a Chinese laborer listening intently with a McDonald’s coffee cup in front of him is worth a thousand essays on U.S. cultural footprints.) Later, a handful of American supervisors are invited to a ceremony in the motherland, left to marvel over the moral-boosting musical numbers and cringe at a woman picking up jagged glass shards without safety gloves.

We meet a local worker who takes several of his newfound friends out to shoot guns and ride his Harley, and a Chinese lineman who misses his family back home. We also get to know several middle-management types from both countries, each struggling to understand “lazy American workers” and screaming Chinese shift leaders with no regards for standard working hours, respectively. A safety regulator futilely tries to make sure standard operating protocols are neither broken nor bent to the point of endangering lives. An obnoxious Ohio native tries to impress his corporate counterparts by joking that if he were allowed to put duct tape on workers’ mouths, their productivity would increase tenfold. (This same man tries to duplicate a pre-shift military procession used in China’s factories upon his return to Fuyao America. It does not go well.) We ride shotgun with United Auto Workers’ members attempting to organize Fuyao’s beleagured employees and a Union Avoidance Consultant paid by the bosses to dissuade folks of the same. Many of these people will be pink-slipped before the end credits roll.

Tempers flare and words are exchanged even before the inevitable boiling point, though American Factory goes to great pains to avoid easy finger-pointing or stock East-vs.-West villainy. Everyone has their reasons, even the somewhat aloof Chairman Cao; everyone has their familiar business practices that feel foreign or outright fucked-up to outsiders. The film is interested in sketching out a bigger picture of labor under pressure, but it never forgets the human beings on both side of the workforce fence. It may come down to collectivity vs. individuality, output vs. speed, numbers vs. quality, pride of achievement vs. just trying to pay your rent — but as one blue-collar grunt notes, “we’re the one caught in the middle.” Guess who’s ultimately getting the Big Squeeze? Ultimately no one emerges happy, while a somewhat chilling coda about mechanization cross-cutting between shift-exiting workers separated by an ocean suggest that a common enemy is closer than they think. American Factory sets out to chart what’s supposed to be a test run for the future of the auto industry and an example of positive international relations. It ends up capturing a cross-cultural car wreck in slow motion.

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Meet Bake Off 2019's Steph – shop assistant from Chester hoping to impress Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith

THE Great British Bake Off 2019 launches in a matter of days and Steph is hopeful her stint on the show will prove successful.

Here is what you need to know about the shop assistant and Bake Off 2019…

Who is The Great British Bake Off 2019 contestant Steph?

Steph, a 28-year-old shop assistant, got into baking thanks to her grandad, who loves homemade bread.

The Chester-native is self-taught and considers herself an ‘intermediate, still-learning’ baker and her passion for sports and wellness inspires her creations.

She likes challenging herself by making her bakes healthier, adding vegetables or fruits, lowering the refined sugar content and prioritising more nutritional fats.

Biscuits are Steph’s go-to bake and she tests herself by trying to create a better version of a supermarket favourite.

When does Bake Off 2019 start?

Channel 4 has confirmed The Great British Bake Off will return on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

The new series kicks off on Channel 4 at 8pm, much like the 2018 series which started on August 28.

Bake Off is expected to run for 10 consecutive weeks.

The final is likely to be in November 2019.

What has Steph said about The Great British Bake Off 2019?

Taking part in Bake Off has been the “most incredible and surreal experience” for Steph, who “didn’t really dream that I would get in”.

Discussing her first week in the tent, she joked how fellow contestant Jamie had unintentionally helped to “break the ice”.

“I really remember laughing a lot at Jamie melting his butter in his proving drawer,” she explained.

“I was very nervous and it just helped break the ice with us all.”

What is the Great British Bake Off prize?

With all the drama, sweat and tears that the dedicated bakers go through, you would expect they would be aiming for some grand cash prize, but the answer is no.

The winning prize is just flowers and a cake stand, at least that's what has happened so far.

Previous Bake Off contestant Martha Collison, who reached the quarter-finals in the 2014 series, confirmed to Barrelhouse: “Everyone is so surprised and thinks there must be some secret cash, but all we really get is a bunch of flowers and a cake stand.

“But then, you also kind of become a national treasure just by doing it because everyone in Britain loves the Bake Off so much.”

Who won The Great British Bake off 2018?

Research scientist Rahul Mandal, 32, was the 2018 Bake Off winner.

He overcame two disasters – an icing explosion and a shattered mixing bowl – in the final to win the show.

After winning the show Rahul was signed as a columnist for The Times Magazine, as part of their Saturday supplement.

You can also find him regularly cooking on This Morning.

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Meet Bake Off 2019's Michelle – print shop administrator from Wales hoping to win over Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith

THE Great British Bake Off is back for series 2019 and Michelle is hoping she can impress the judges and be crowned this year's winner.

Here is what you need to know about the print shop administrator and Bake Off 2019…

Who is Bake Off 2019 contestant Michelle?

Michelle is a 35-year-old print shop administrator from Wales, who first fell in love with baking as a child, watching her mother bake.

She was brought up on a farm but now lives in the seaside town of Tenby with her husband and teenage son.

The mother-of-one bakes almost every other day and likes to experiment with flavour combinations, using seasonal vegetables from her own vegetable patch.

Her bakes are often created with good-quality, local produce and made with precision.

What has Michelle said about The Great British Bake Off 2019?

Michelle was in a flood of tears when she discovered she would be participating in The Great British Bake Off 2019.

On making it to the Tent, she said: “I was so emotional when I found out, I cry when I am happy and cry when I am sad.  I have wanted it for so long, so I couldn’t believe it.”

She said those who know her would be pleased for her as she has dreamt of appearing on the show for ages.

When does The Great British Bake Off 2019 start?

Channel 4 has confirmed The Great British Bake Off will return on Tuesday, August 27, 2019.

The new series kicks off on Channel 4 at 8pm, much like the 2018 series which started on August 28.

Bake Off is expected to run for 10 consecutive weeks and the final is likely to be in November 2019.

What is the Great British Bake Off prize?

With all the drama, sweat and tears that the dedicated bakers go through, you would expect they would be aiming for some grand cash prize, but the answer is no.

The winning prize is just flowers and a cake stand, at least that's what has happened so far.

Previous Bake Off contestant Martha Collison, who reached the quarter-finals in the 2014 series, confirmed to Barrelhouse: “Everyone is so surprised and thinks there must be some secret cash, but all we really get is a bunch of flowers and a cake stand.

“But then, you also kind of become a national treasure just by doing it because everyone in Britain loves the Bake Off so much.”

Who won The Great British Bake off 2018?

Research scientist Rahul Mandal, 32, was the 2018 Bake Off winner.

He overcame two disasters – an icing explosion and a shattered mixing bowl – in the final to win the show.

After winning the show Rahul was signed as a columnist for The Times Magazine, as part of their Saturday supplement.

You can also find him regularly cooking on This Morning.

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Bake Off 2019: Who is Great British Bake Off contestant Phil? Age, job, Instagram

The Great British Bake Off will launch next Tuesday (August 27) on Channel 4 with a new line-up of amateur bakers. The series of GBBO will pit the 13 new contestants up against each other in a new host of challenges. Joining this year’s series is 56-year-old Phil – here’s what you need to know about the amateur baker.

Who is Great British Bake Off contestant Phil?

Season 10 of the Great British Bake Off will begin on Tuesday, August 27 on Channel 4.

The latest series of the baking competition will reunite Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith as the judges.

This year the pair will be assessing the talents of the 13 contestants, which is up from the usual 12 that have appeared in the past.

Included in the new line-up is HGV driver Phil who lives in Rainham, East London.

The 56-year-old amateur baker started taking baking seriously six years ago.

However, the contestant did reveal it has been a love of his ever since baking bread in his home economics classes at school.

Phil lives in Rainham with his wife and two daughters, who he often bakes for.

The new contestant has revealed he bakes four to five times a week making an array of breads from focaccia to brioche.

As a result, he’s sure to be after some praise from the bread expert judge Hollywood when he enters the tent.

Despite being a keen baker, the HGV driver admitted that some people will be surprised to see him in the competition.

In fact, even though he’s wanted to be on the show for many years, he thinks some of his friends will not believe he’s on the famous show when they turn on their television sets.

Speaking of two of his long-term friends, he said: “They had been staying with us recently and said ‘you make such wonderful cakes’, but have never mentioned to me that I should go on Bake Off.

“So I think they haven’t a clue that I would be in it.”

Alongside baking, Phil is passionate about motorbikes and even sometimes combines the two, turning up to his bike meetings with his edible creations.

Sure to shine in bread week, Phil will be undertaking the signature, technical and showstopper challenges each episode.

The show will be judged once again by Hollywood and Leith who will be setting the bakers increasingly difficult tasks.

Hosts Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig will also be returning to ease the tension in the famous GBBO tent.

Who else is in this year’s line-up?

The 13 contestants in this year’s line-up make season 10 the youngest in the show’s history.

With an average age of just 31, the contestants will battle it to become star baker each week.

The full Great British Bake Off 2019 line up is:

  • Alice, 28
  • Phil, 56
  • Rosie, 28
  • Steph, 28
  • Priya, 34
  • Michelle, 35
  • Michael, 26
  • Jamie, 20
  • Helena, 40
  • Henry, 20
  • Dan, 32
  • David, 36

The Great British Bake Off begins on Channel 4 on August 27 at 8pm.

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The Hunt Director Says His Controversial — and Canceled — Film Wasn't Made to 'Incite Violence'

The director of satire thriller The Hunt has broken his silence after the film’s release was halted in the wake of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

Director Craig Zobel (Compliance) recently spoke to Variety about Universal’s decision last week to cancel the scheduled September 27 release of the film, in which everyday people are kidnapped and hunted for sport by rich elites. The film comes from the minds of horror producer Jason Blum (Get Out) and The Leftovers‘ creator Damon Lindelof.

“If I believed this film could incite violence, I wouldn’t have made it,” he wrote in a series of emails to the outlet.

“Our ambition was to poke at both sides of the aisle equally,” he added. “We seek to entertain and unify, not enrage and divide. It is up to the viewers to decide what their takeaway will be.”

Zobel added that he feels the film — which stars Hilary Swank, Emma Roberts, Justin Hartley and GLOW‘s Betty Gilpin — has been misunderstood.

“I wanted to make a fun, action thriller that satirized this moment in our culture — where we jump to assume we know someone’s beliefs because of which ‘team’ we think they’re on… and then start shouting at them,” he said. “This rush to judgment is one of the most relevant problems of our time.”


Justin Hartley and Emma Roberts

However, Zobel supports Universal’s decision to cancel the release upon hearing of the shooting massacres on Aug. 3 and 4 that left 31 people dead.

“I was devastated by going to sleep to El Paso and waking up to Dayton,” he said. “These types of moments happen far too often. In the wake of these horrific events, we immediately considered what it meant for the timing of our film. Once inaccurate assumptions about the content and intent of the movie began to take hold, I supported the decision to move the film off its release date.”

After the shootings, Universal paused the film’s marketing campaign, and then canceled the release altogether, which may have come as a result of President Donald Trump‘s Twitter tirade after the shootings.

“Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate!” Trump wrote in a two-part tweet. “They like to call themselves ‘Elite,’ but they are not Elite. In fact, it is often the people that they so strongly oppose that are actually the Elite. The movie coming out is made in order……..to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!”

Universal has since taken down its official YouTube links of the movie’s trailer, but anyone who has watched them will surely notice that the characters being hunted (such as the one played by Gilpin) are clearly the protagonists/heroes of the story, and the elites hunting them are the malicious villains. But it’s now unclear if anyone will ever get to take in the full story.

The film had been set to hit theaters on Sept. 27.

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Richard Williams, Oscar-Winning Animator of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit,’ Dies at 86

Buena Vista Pictures

Richard Williams, the Oscar-winning animator of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at the age of 86.
His family announced that Williams passed away at his home in Bristol, England. His daughter, Natasha Sutton Williams, told British media that he had been suffering from cancer.
Throughout his acclaimed career, Williams won three Oscars, three BAFTAs and more than 250 other international awards.
The Toronto-born animator and director was best known for his groundbreaking work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” which was the first film to blend live actors and animated characters like Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit for a seamless result. Williams earned the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and Special Achievement.
Williams also directed 1971’s Oscar-winning animated feature “A Christmas Carol” and animated the title sequences for the “Pink Panther” franchise.
He directed, produced and wrote his unfinished feature film “The Thief and the Cobbler,” a hand-animated epic inspired by “Arabian Nights.”
Williams wrote “The Animator’s Survival Kit,” considered the definitive bible in the animation industry.
Williams is survived by wife Imogen Sutton and six children.

Who Framed Roger RabbitPGJune 21st, 198883metacriticBased on 15 Critics

Down-on-his-luck private eye Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) gets hired by cartoon producer R.K. Maroon (Alan Tilvern) to investigate an adultery scandal involving Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner), the sultry wife of Maroon's biggest star, Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer). But when Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), Jessica's alleged paramour and the owner of Toontown, is found murdered, the villainous Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) vows to catch and destroy Roger. Read More

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‘Underwater’ Trailer Puts Kristen Stewart Into Deep Sea Trouble

20th Century Fox

Something is lurking in the cold, dark, unfathomable ocean bottom — and Kristen Stewart is about to come face to face with it.
In the trailer for “Underwater,” Stewart is part of a crew of researchers who are sent seven miles down into the ocean. When an earthquake devastates their subterranean laboratory, they are forced to scramble for safety by trekking across the ocean floor. But it’s far from safe, as they encounter some terrifying creatures.
The trailer gives off a very “‘Aliens’ but in the ocean” vibe. T.J. Miller, Vincent Cassel and John Gallagher Jr. also star.
“Underwater” opens in theaters on January 10, 2020

Underwater

After an earthquake destroys their underwater station, six researchers must navigate two miles in the dangerous, unknown depths of the ocean floor to make it safety. Read More

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Strictly Come Dancing: Gorka Marquez ‘WON’T get celebrity partner’ after Neil Jones news

Strictly Come Dancing fans are waiting to find out which professional dancers will be paired with which celebrities.

Reports have emerged earlier today suggesting Neil Jones will get a celebrity partner for the first time. 

However, it’s believed his new role will come at a cost as Gorka Marquez is thought to be the one who is stepping down. 

It would be a big blow for fans who love the Spanish hunk’s inclusion on the show.

The Sun have reported Neil was picked “over” Gorka because he “isn’t tall enough” for this year’s line-up. 

It is believed new dad Gorka will become one of Strictly’s reserves, and will still dance in group numbers.

Express.co.uk has contacted a representative of the BBC for comment. 

The news comes just one day after Neil announced his split with wife and fellow professional, Katya Jones.

Both Neil and Katya issued the same statement, which read: “Hi everyone. As our fans and loyal supporters you are really important to us and so we wanted to let you know some news.

“After 11 years, we have made the mutual decision to separate.”

READ MORE: Strictly Come Dancing 2019: Neil Jones set for major new role following Katya Jones split?

It continued: “We will always love each other, just in a different way as friend. This will never change what a great team we make and we are really proud of everything we have achieved together.

“Our shared love of dance means we will keep working and dancing together as well as exploring individual projects.

“No matter what we do we will always support and respect each other.”

They added: “We wish one another every happiness and we will remain the best of friends.

“We are really looking forward to getting back to the ballroom and can’t wait to keep on dancing. Lots of love from us both xx.”

Meanwhile, the contestants with the lowest scores have been revealed alongside one ‘dance disaster’.

Express.co.uk did research and worked out Susannah Constantine and Anton Du Beke got the lowest number. 

Last year, Craig Revel Horwood gave them a score of one twice for their routines.

He told them: “Even the smoke sadly couldn’t cover that complete dance disaster.”

Strictly Come Dancing returns next month on BBC One.

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'The Good Doctor': Why Shaun's Love Life Just Got More Interesting

The third season of The Good Doctor will kick things off with a romantic note — although it may not be with the romantic partner that some viewers expected.

Jasika Nicole, who had played the recurring character Dr. Carly Lever, has been promoted to a series regular. This comes hard on the heels of the Season 2 finale in which series lead Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) asked Carly out on a date — and she said yes.

With Nicole being a regular now, we’re going to guess the date goes well – and some fans actually seem to be OK with that. 

Dr. Lever gets a promotion and a date

Carly is a pathologist who has been around since season 1 but hasn’t been a constant presence. At the end of season 2, we saw Shaun getting decked out in a suit, go to Carly’s house and ask her out. However, this pulled the rug out from viewers who had seen Shaun’s roommate Lea (Paige Spara) comes home to find Shaun suited up with a bouquet. It looked like he was going to ask Lea for the date. 

Don’t you just hate it when you find out flowers aren’t for you?

What makes this all the more ironic is that Spara had been in the recurring cast for Season 1 and became a series regular herself in Season 2. She had been Shaun’s love interest until she left to pursue her dream.

When she came back, she and Shaun decided to be just friends — but given the misdirect between her and Carly, it seems as though the show thought audiences were shipping Shaun and Lea, not Shaun and Carly.

Why did Shaun pick Carly?

Executive producer David Shore explained his rationale this way to TV Line: 

“The audience wants to see Shaun with Lea [together], and I kind of do, too, but we’ll see where that goes … At a certain point, I was going, ‘Oh, the audience is going to hate me for not having him ask Lea out,’ but then I thought just seeing him ask anybody out — and Carly is someone we care about, and somebody who cares about Shaun — is going to be a lovely victory. All [of those romantic pairings] are on the table and continue to be on the table as we go forward.”

While the show clearly thought it was springing a big surprise on the audience, Shore might be surprised to learn that viewers approve of this date, if the comments on TV Line are to be believed. Some liked Nicole anyway because of her work on Fringe.

“Yes i do not like shaun with lea at all she is so selfish new pairing much better,” said one.

Another said, “Frankly, even though I liked the Lea/Shaun pairing at first, I now prefer Shaun to be with someone else. Lea seems to take Shaun for granted & almost flaunts her bf in front of him. I still like the nurse, but don’t mind this pairing with Carly.”

Does ‘The Good Doctor’ get love and autism right?

While The Good Doctor spends a lot of time defining how someone with autism functions in the workplace, not many shows deal with how someone with autism deals with love or sex. So for The Good Doctor to dig deeper in this area, there are many ways to break new ground. Shaun has found romance difficult because of a childhood incident where a girl he liked mocked him publicly for wanting to kiss her.

“Often with love and relationships, when someone who has a diagnosis is rejected by someone they’re pursuing or is interested in, it can really stop them forever from trying to pursue any other kind of relationship again,” said Melissa Reiner, an autism consultant who spoke to Indiewire. That’s why Shaun asking anyone out is such a big deal. 

Reiner had her doubts about whether Shaun and Lea could work as a romantic couple, even though she gave him his first kiss.

Reiner said, “A woman like Lea would feel the responsibility and the weight and the gravity of that. You can’t just have sex with this guy or even kiss this guy again, or interact in a more intimate way, and have it then kind of fizzle. This would need to be permanent, forever. Unless you want to marry this guy, there has to be a clear boundary.”

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The Chase: Bradley Walsh loses it with star after huge slip up ‘Just press a button!’

Today’s edition of The Chase Celebrity Special saw Bradley Walsh quiz Sarah Willingham, Shaun Ryder, Michelle Dewberry and Eddie Edwards.

The group of four were hoping to make as much money as possible for their chosen charities but things didn’t get off to the best start.

Sarah was the first up to the podium and managed to earn £4,000 in the cash builder round but she struggled when she faced Paul Sinha, also know as the Sinnerman.

She shocked both host Bradley and the audience when she selected an answer before the Harry Potter question had been read out completely.

Bradley tried to reassure her but it was quickly revealed her actions had disastrous consequences when it was incorrect.

Things went from bad to worse when another question left Sarah stumped.

She was asked: “Which of these is the title of a 1990s Country song by US singer Deana Carter?”

The answers were I’m Hairy and You Know It, Did I Shave My Legs For This? and I’ve Got the Post Wax Blues.

Stunned by the question and answers, she turned to Bradley and asked: “Is that a real question?”

Bradley was left horrified, pulling a face at Sarah and snapping: “No I just made them up!”

As the audience laughed, he instructed the star: “Just press a button! Press a button! Standing there and pontificating, no.”

Sarah did as she was told telling the host: “That’s ridiculous!”

“Well it is ridiculous but I’ve never heard of them either,” Bradley replied.

It was then revealed Sarah had selected I’m Hairy and You Know It as her answer but was once again incorrect.

She was eventually knocked out of the competition with Shaun also failing to make it to the Final Chase round.

It was up to Michelle and Eddie to try and defeat the Sinnerman at the final hurdle.

While it looked like they wouldn’t win big, the pair managed to take home £6,000.

Many of those tuning into tonight’s edition of The Chase were fair from impressed with the team with some calling it the “worst ever”.

One fan tweeted: “On paper having an apprentice winner, a dragon, a pop legend and Eddie the Eagle all bases should be covered. This has got to be the worst team in. Celebrity #thechase history.”

Another added: “This has to be the worst episode of #TheChase.”

The Chase airs weekdays on ITV at 5pm.

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