In April 2018, Reichert was diagnosed with stage four urothelial cancer, said the Associated Press. On Dec. 1, Reichert died in her home in Yellow Springs at the age of 76.
The university said Reichert was an active builder of the American documentary community throughout her 50-year career. She was a professor of film production at Wright State for 28 years and mentored dozens of emerging filmmakers.
In February 2020, Reichert and former Wright State faculty member and alumnus Steven Bognar’s “American Factory” won the Oscar for Best Feature Documentary.
In her acceptance speech, Reichert said, “Our film is from Ohio and China, 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.”
Wright State said that Reichert and Bogan celebrated the win with about 100 students and faculty just four days after the Oscars. During the celebration, Reichert encouraged students who wanted to make documentaries to not “flinch when something uncomfortable happens.”
“That’s something you learn as a documentarian — to roll with the punches,” she said. “It’s so different from fiction. That’s the fun of it too.”
“American Factory” also received the Best Directing Award for U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. It was also chosen by Barack and Michelle Obama as the first release by their company, Higher Ground Productions.
“We are extremely saddened to hear the news of the passing of Oscar-winning documentarian Julia Reichert,” said Gary Schmidt, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Her contributions as a professor, artist and tireless advocate for social justice have made our community and country a better place.”