Yellow Springs, Ohio-based filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert just won the Directors Guild of America's Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Documentary for their feature American Factory.
The film, currently streaming on Netflix as the first release from Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, hones in on the Chinese-run company Fuyao Glass America in Moraine, Ohio. Fuyao opened inside what was once a General Motors plant, whose closure was the focus of Bognar and Reichert’s Oscar-nominated short, The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant. When the GM plant shuttered in 2008, nearly 3,000 were left jobless. Fuyao came with a promise of new jobs — over 1,500 of them, according to The New York Times. But, as the doc's logline reads, "Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America."
Bognar and Reichert were at the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles on Jan. 25 for the 72nd-annual DGA ceremony, hosted by Judd Apatow. They accepted the directing award boasting matching shaved heads to support Reichert, who the Dayton Daily News says is "battling a rare and deadly cancer."
“People who do the work around the world are under more pressure, are being pushed harder and harder to work longer hours, to work in dangerous situations — work longer, faster for less pay and less security while billionaires multiply (wealth),” Reichert said when accepting the award, according to the Dayton Daily News. “Is this the world we want to live in? We hope our story raises that question and brings change."
American Factory is also nominated for an Oscar this year in the Best Documentary (Feature) category and Bognar and Reichert have previously won Sundance's directing award for U.S. documentary. This DGA win seems to put the film as a frontrunner for the Oscar.
Oscar winners will be announced during the 92nd annual Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 9.