Julia Reichert ’70 won her first Oscar at the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 9, 2020 for the documentary American Factory. It was Reichert’s fourth Oscar nomination. She shares the award with her longtime partner and collaborator Steve Bognar, and with nephew Jeff Reichert.
PHOTO CREDIT: JORDAN STRAUSS / INVISION/AP
Watch their “Thank You Cam” speech below which includes nods to both Antioch College and Yellow Springs.
American Factory follows the creation of an automotive glass factory near Dayton by Chinese-owned Fuyao USA. The plant occupies Moraine Assembly; a shuttered General Motors plant which was the subject of Reichert’s previous Oscar nominated film: The Last Truck. American Factory “illustrates the economic dynamics that have led the United States to its current state of political polarization.” (The New Yorker, 2019).
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 where it won best documentary feature, and was subsequently picked up by Netflix in association with Higher Ground Productions, Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company. The film has garnered wide acclaim with a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 8.51/10. Among its many accolades, American Factory has won: best documentary from the Directors Guild of America Award, the Film Independent Spirit Award, and the Gotham Award Independent Film Award, and it has been nominated for the Producers Guild of America Awards under the category ‘Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures’.
Reichert graduated from Antioch College in 1970 with a degree in documentary arts, and it was here that she created her first documentary Growing Up Female which she created with longtime collaborator James Klein. Reichert is an acclaimed filmmaker who has been called the “godmother of the American independent film movement.” Her work is the focus of an touring retrospective, “Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film,” which was on view at the Wexner Center for the Arts last October. Her most recent project is an experimental interactive nonfiction website titled “Reinvention Stories,” created in collaboration with Bognar and WYSO FM.