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The ‘American Factory’ filmmakers didn’t thank the Obamas at the Oscars, but they did backstage

‘American Factory’ directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert with Michelle and Barack Obama
“American Factory” directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert with Michelle and Barack Obama.
(Netflix)

The win for documentary feature was bittersweet for the directors of “American Factory,” who were missing a co-producer and the factory chairman from the film on their big night.

Both of the no-shows are currently unable to leave China due to the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on Chinese visitors as the coronavirus continues to spread.

“That inconvenience pales when compared to people losing their lives, suffering because of this virus,” said co-director Steven Bognar. “Our hearts go out to the people who are dealing with this very, very deadly virus.”

Bognar’s filmmaking partner, Julia Reichert, also stressed the importance of cross-cultural collaboration in a divisive world, citing the unifying vision of “American Factory’s” highest-profile supporters: Barack and Michelle Obama.

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“I think that’s why President Obama and Michelle Obama took on our film at Sundance,” Reichert said. “They felt that they could help people listen to each other, and … through these stories, create empathy and build relationships. … You [stand] in the shoes of the other, and there is no other.”

The “American Factory” team had yet to hear from the Obamas immediately after their win but were confident they’d been informed of the victory."Well, we don’t know anything about whether … President Obama or Mrs. Obama were told yet,” Bognar said. “But it’s safe to say they’ve probably heard the news.”


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