Julia Reichert

Career Achievement Award

Julia Reichert has, for nearly 50 years, been an exceptional filmmaker and an active member and builder of the documentary community.  Across a long career, her films, co-directed with Jim Klein, and later with Steven Bognar, have given voice to women and working people, infusing their stories with urgency and dignity.  

Reichert’s first film, Growing Up Female (1971) was the first feature documentary to grow out of the Women’s Liberation Movement.  In 2011, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry.

In 1971, frustrated with the lack of distribution options for films by and about women, Reichert co-founded New Day Films, the democratically run documentary film distribution cooperative. Forty-seven years later, New Day Films is going strong, and now has over 150 active members.

Reichert is a three-time Academy Award nominee, for Union Maids (1977), Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists (1984), and The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant (2010).  Each of these films tells stories of working people in America, and their struggles for agency, power and a decent life.  

Reichert’s A Lion in the House (2006), a co-production with ITVS, was a four-hour, two-part primetime PBS special, and won the Primetime Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking, as well as the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media.  

Reichert was an advisor on the creation of both the IFP and the PBS series POV. She has mentored dozens of emerging filmmakers over the years, and is co-founder of Indie Caucus, the action group working to keep the documentary form alive and well on PBS. She is a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Television Academy.

Reichert is currently completing two feature documentaries. One, a Participant Media production, is the story of a Chinese factory opening in the Rust Belt town of Dayton, Ohio. The other is the story of the 9 to 5 Movement of working women, telling the story of secretaries across America rising up to fight for their rights in the 1970s and ’80s.  

In 2019, the Museum of Modern Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts will team up to present a traveling retrospective of Julia Reichert’s films.