“The Academy” sent a Dayton-area resident an email with a subject line he couldn’t fathom when he first started making movies in the late ‘70s on a super 8 camera found in a Beavercreek ranch house.
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"The subject said "Welcome to the Academy," Yellow Springs resident Steve Bognar said.
The Oscar-nominated filmmaker is among the newest members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
He knew he had been nominated for the prestigious club, but said he is amazed he was accepted.
“It is like ‘wow, that really happened’,” Bognar said. “In the Academy are so many of the filmmakers who are my heroes and sheroes whose work has meant so much to me over the years. To join their ranks is incredible. It just means so much to me.”
He joins Julia Reichert, his partner in life and creative pursuits, in the Academy. She has been a member for about 9 years.
Bognar said he fell in love with filmmaking during childhood days spent with friends making films with a super 8 camera.
“We couldn’t play guitar. We weren’t musicians, so we made movies,” he said. “I discovered a love.”
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On Monday, the Academy announced Bognar’s name with 841 other new members from 59 countries.
Half of the new members are women and 29 percent are people of color, according to a breakdown provided on the Academy's website.
The class includes Oscar winners Annie Lennox, Lady Gaga and Adele.
Other new members include Claire Foy, Letitia Wright, Sterling K. Brown and directors Jonathan Chu ("Crazy Rich Asians"), Jennifer Kent ("The Babadook") as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller ("Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse").
Bognar is a part of a documentary group that includes Jimmy Chin ("Free Solo"), Talal Derki ("Of Fathers and Sons") and Ben Cotner ("13th").
Like other members of his group, he will be charged with selecting nominees in the documentary category for the Oscar vote.
“One of the responsibilities is that I will have to watch about 200 documentaries a year,” he said.
He will be able to vote on nominees in the other Oscar categories, but not select nominees for those categories.
Netflix plans to begin streaming Bognar and Reichert’s “American Factory” on Aug. 21.
The film is about Fuyao Glass America. It follows the creation of the Chinese-owned automotive glass-factory in the same building that had once housed a General Motors assembly operation in Moraine.
Reichert and Bognar received an Academy Award nomination in the “Best Documentary (short subject)” category for their 2009 HBO film “The Last Truck” about the closing of that very same GM plant in Moraine.
Documentary editor Lindsay Utz, who worked with Bognar and Reichert on “American Factory,” was also added to the Academy.
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Bognar, whose resume includes the 2006 film “Lion in the House” and the 1999 film “Picture Day,” is a former Wright State faculty member.
W. Stuart McDowell, the artistic director of Wright State's Department of Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures, has high praise for Bognar and his work for the Tom Hanks Center for Motion Pictures.
"Steve's the real thing. One of the finest documentarians working today," McDowell said. "(Actor Tom) Hanks raved about Steve and Julia's 'The Last Truck,' after that, Steve produced a half dozen promos for Wright State featuring Hanks, which played a major role in raising the $160 million as part of the Rise.Shine.Campaign. Steve played an unsung but major part in all of this."
A 1981 Carroll High School graduate, Bognar also taught movie production at Colonel White and Yellow Springs high schools.