Julia Reichert Obituary, Death – At her home in Yellow Springs, Julia Reichert, who was a film professor at Wright State University for many years and was known as the “godmother of American independent documentaries,” passed away. Reichert was a pioneer in the field of documentary filmmaking in the United States. It was the year 76. Reichert was an influential figure in the development of the American documentary community throughout her fifty-year career as a filmmaker and educator. Women and working people have been given a voice in her films, which she has co-directed with longtime Wright State professor Jim Klein and later with former Wright State faculty member and alumnus Steven Bognar. These films have imbued the narratives of these groups with a sense of urgency and dignity.
In February of 2020, Reichert, an emeritus professor of motion pictures, and Bognar were awarded the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary for their work on “American Factory. “During her acceptance speech, Reichert stated that their movie was produced in both Ohio and China. “… People who put on a suit and punch a time clock do so in the hope of providing a better life for their families. However, these people could come from any location in the world. The working class is having an increasingly difficult time of it these days. When workers from all over the world come together, we believe that things will get better.
At the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, the documentary titled “American Factory” also took home the award for Best Directing in the United States Documentary category. The documentary, which was produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company Higher Ground and is now available to stream on Netflix, was also produced by Higher Ground. Reichert was hailed as a model educator, artist, colleague, and social force by Joe Deer, the artistic director of Wright State Theatre in the School of Fine and Performing Arts.
“What makes her such an influential educator and mentor is that she has spent her life telling the stories of everyday, overlooked people with compassion and a real appreciation for their dreams and struggles,” said Deer. “What makes her such an impactful educator and mentor is that she has spent her life telling the stories of everyday, overlooked people.” “And a good number of those tales are told right here in our own backyard – in hospitals in Cincinnati, among workers in Dayton, and among her neighbors in Yellow Springs. I am so appreciative of the years that I was able to spend observing her work, listening to her discuss teaching, and simply being motivated by her vitality and perspective.
Reichert and Bognar included a significant number of faculty members, staff members, students, and alumni of Wright State in their films, one of which was titled “American Factory. “Her work with students and alumni of Wright State, according to Professor Emeritus Stuart McDowell, who served as chair of the former Department of Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures for nearly 25 years, was Reichert’s most significant contribution to the field of theatre and film studies. According to McDowell, she set a good example for them by involving them in the production of her films.is quoted as saying that “her life will live on in the work that she has done.” “It will also live on in her students, who will in turn train other filmmakers because the generosity of spirit that she manifested in her life was exceptional and it’s a real blessing and a gift,” he said. “It will also live on in her students.”