Best Of 2020

Best Regional Documentary: "American Factory"

Julia Reichert  and Steven Bognar filming "American Factory"

What a crowning achievement to the career of Dayton-based filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert it was when their American Factory won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary. A perceptively observed, lively account of how a Chinese glass manufacturer reopened a closed Dayton auto plant and hired American workers struggling to earn a living in a post-industrial economy, it at first seems like it will be an upbeat film about second chances for blue-collar workers and international economic cooperation. But not so fast. The American workers, used to their old union-negotiated protections and a right to a separation between life and work, aren’t natural fits for the new boss and his demanding production schedule, and tensions build. The result was profound enough that the film received support from Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground. At her Oscar acceptance speech, Reichert politely but insistently expressed the most radically idealistic sentiment of the ceremony when she told a worldwide audience, “Working people have it harder and harder these days, and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite.”