How Did Julia Reichert Die?Julia Reichert Cause of Death, Oscar-Winning Documentarian of ‘American Factory,
Julia Reichert, a filmmaker and educator who made a pioneering feminist documentary, “Growing Up Female,” as an undergraduate student and almost a half-century later won an Academy Award for “American Factory,” a documentary feature about the Chinese takeover of a shuttered automobile plant in Dayton, Ohio, died on Thursday at her home in nearby Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was 76.
Steven Bognar, her husband and filmmaking partner, confirmed the death. The cause, diagnosed in 2018, was urothelial cancer, which affects the urethra, bladder and other organs. She learned she had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2006.
Ms. Reichert, a longtime professor of motion pictures at Wright State University in Dayton, was in the forefront of a new generation of social documentarians who came out of the New Left and feminist movements of the early 1970s with a belief in film as an organizing tool with a social mission. Her films were close to oral history: Eschewing voice-over narration, they were predicated on interviews in which her mainly working-class subjects spoke for themselves.
“Growing Up Female” (1971), which she made with her future husband, James Klein, a classmate at Antioch College in Ohio, was selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry in 2011.
Her documentaries “Union Maids” (1976), made with Mr. Klein and Miles Mogelescu, and “Seeing Red” (1983), also made with Mr. Klein, were both nominated for Academy Awards.
Both movies mix archival footage with interviews. “Union Maids” profiles three women active in the Chicago labor movement during the Great Depression. “Seeing Red” portrays rank-and-file members of the Communist Party during the 1930s and ’40s.
Ms. Reichert was again nominated, in 2010, for the short documentary “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant,” which she directed with Mr. Bognar, her second husband.
“The Last Truck” documented the closing of a an automobile assembly plant in Moraine, Ohio, some of it clandestinely filmed by workers inside the plant. The movie served as a prologue to “American Factory,” which Netflix released in conjunction with Barack and Michelle Obama’s fledgling company Higher Ground Productions, and which won the 2019 documentary-feature Oscar.