Hollywood’s most-prized golden man is coming home to the Dayton area with a local couple who live in a village named for its spring.
Yellow Springs residents Julia Reichert and Steve Bognar — longtime pillars of Dayton’s art and film community — received the Oscar in the documentary feature category for their critically-acclaimed film “American Factory” at the Academy Award ceremony, Sunday, Feb. 9. They share the award with Jeff Reichert.
The film edged out “The Cave,” “The Edge of Democracy,” “For Sama” and “Honeyland.”
Julia Reichert, a nationally acclaimed artist who has been called the godmother of the American independent film movement, is battling a rare and deadly cancer.
She and Bognar were exuberant during their acceptance speeches.
“Even before that envelope got opened, just being in the presence, in the company of our sister and brother documentarians who risked their lives making stories, bringing stories to us about hospitals being bombed in Syria, about Brazil, about Macedonia, we were so proud. We are inspired by you guys. Our film is from Ohio and China. Go Buckeyes! Sorry. But it really could be from anywhere that people put on a uniform and punch a clock, trying to make their families have a better life. Working people have it harder and harder these days. We believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite,” Reichert said.
Bognar said, “Thank you, Academy! Thank you to everyone who trusted us to tell your story. Junming Wang, thank you to our unstoppable crew, our beloved friends and family, Jeff Liu, our unstoppable editor Lindsay Utz, and to those big-hearted people at Netflix, Participant Media, Higher Ground Productions, and the tough, inventive, great people of Dayton, Ohio.”
“American Factory” follows the creation of the Chinese-owned automotive glass-factory Fuyao Glass America in the same building that had once housed a General Motors assembly operation in Moraine.
Bognar and Reichert, a couple together for more than 30 years, 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.
Some of the stars of “American Factory” — Dayton-area residents and former and past Fuyao Glass workers Jill Lamantia, Shawnea Rosser-Carter, Robert “Bobby” Allen, Wong He and Rob Haerr — and their guests attended the ceremony.
Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, in partnership with Netflix, acquired “American Factory” in April 2019.
Reichert and Bognar were considered front- runners for the prizes having won the Directors Guild of America Award, the Film Independent Spirit Award and the Gotham Award Independent Film Award in the documentary categories.
The Oscar nomination is the fourth for Reichert and the second for Bognar.
Aside from “Last Truck” and “American Factory” with Bognar, Reichert was nominated for the first time in 1978 with James Klein and Miles Mogulescu for “Union Maids,” and again with Klein in 1984 for “Seeing Red.”
This is the third year in a row the Miami Valley will have a direct connection to the awards.
Centerville High School and Wright State University graduate Hannah Beachler won the Oscar for Production Design last year for her work on Marvel’s “Black Panther” during the 91st Annual Academy Awards.
>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Dayton celebrates Hannah Beachler’s historic Oscar win for Black Panther
Two years ago, Oakwood-raised actress Allison Janney earned the Oscar for best actress in a supporting role last year at the 90th annual Academy Awards for “I, Tonya.”
Springfield native John Legend won the 2015 Oscar for Best Original Song for “Glory.”