The national spotlight was shining brightly on Wright State University professor emeritus Julia Reichert and former motion pictures faculty member Steven Bognar as they won the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary for “American Factory.”
Their documentary film is a look at Fuyao Glass America, a Chinese company that took over the site of the Moraine General Motors’ truck plant, which closed in 2008 and put more than 1,000 workers out of jobs.
The winners of the Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement Awards for 2019 were announced Jan. 25 during the 72nd Annual DGA Awards at the Ritz Carlton in Downtown Los Angeles. This was the first DGA nomination for Bognar and Reichert.
“This is a homegrown movie made by a homegrown team,” Bognar told the audience at the Dayton premiere of “American Factory” at the Victoria Theater on Aug. 19. He added that the movie’s credits are thick with the names of people with Wright State connections.
“American Factory” also received the Best Directing Award for U.S. Documentary at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It was chosen by Barack and Michelle Obama as the first release by their new company, Higher Ground Productions, and is available on Netflix.
“American Factory” also has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Documentary (Feature) category by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscars will be broadcast live on Feb. 9. The Oscar nomination is the fourth for Reichert and the second for Bognar.
Joe Deer, professor and chair of the Wright State Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures, said Reichert and Bognar have been integral to the life of the department and the university community for more than 30 years. “They bring a level of integrity to their teaching, mentorship and documentary film work that is genuinely world-class,” said Deer. “Though their professional lives have taken them out of our classrooms, they are still powerfully part of this department and continue influencing our young filmmakers to create stories that matter.”
Bognar also gave special thanks at the “American Factory” Dayton premiere to the Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures, saying it has spawned “many talented young filmmakers.”
Reichert and Bognar documented the final days of the same plant before it was shuttered in their 2010 HBO film “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant.” It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (short subject).
For 28 years, Reichert was a professor of film production at Wright State. She has mentored filmmakers from around the country and is co-founder of Indie Caucus, the action group working to keep the documentary form alive and well on PBS. Reichert also has won Academy Award nominations for “Union Maids” (1977), “Seeing Red” (1984) and “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” (2010).
Reichert and Bognar’s film “A Lion in the House” was a four-hour, two-part primetime PBS special and won the Primetime Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking as well as the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film and Digital Media.
Bognar also is a former Wright State faculty member and a 1986 graduate of the Wright State Motion Pictures program.
Both Bognar and Reichert are members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Like other members of their group, they are charged with selecting nominees in the documentary category for the Oscar vote.
The Directors Guild of America is a labor organization that represents the creative and economic rights of directors and members of the directorial team working in film, television, commercials, documentaries, news, sports and new media.
Founded in 1936 when a small group of the best-known directors of the time joined together to protect the economic and creative rights of directors in motion pictures, the DGA is the world’s preeminent organization representing directors and members of the directorial team, including directors, assistant directors, unit production managers, associate directors, stage managers and production associates – over 18,000 strong worldwide.