In Memoriam: Julia Reichert

Julia Reichert’s career began in independent filmmaking when, in 1971, she and co-founders Amalie R. Rothschild, Jim Klein and Liane Brandon, created New Day Films. Due to there being a lack of distribution outlet for independent and progressive creatives, their operation focused on social issue films in the education market.

Brandon said about the construction of New Day Films that the “whole idea” was to further the women’s movement. Films could “…get the ideas out. We could watch the women’s movement spread across the country just by who was ordering our films.”

Growing Up Female, her first film released through New Day Films, shone a light on gender bias and was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. This, as well as her later film Union Maids, were preserved by The NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund. 

In 2020, Riechert was awarded the Best Documentary Feature Oscar for her film, American Factory, co-directed with her partner Steve Bognar. American Factory was also produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions and distributed by Netflix.  

New Day’s collection contains over 300 titles and over 150 filmmaker members. These films spotlight stories of those whose identities cause them to be overlooked, be it due to race, class, gender, or other facets. They serve as an archive for the history of various social movements ranging from the women’s movement to fights for other minority groups such as LGBT and disability rights. 

Award recipients Michael Apted, Cynthia Lopez, Julia Reichert, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Bognar pose with DOC NYC Executive Director Raphaela Neihausen and Artistic Director Thom Powers at the 2019 Visionaries Tribute. (Photo Credit: DOC NYC)


Jim Klien, one of Reichert’s early collaborators, said that Julia and their roles were “an essential part of our lives.” Klien goes on to say that Julia made films that embodied the spirit of DIY– that is, doing-it-yourself– with whatever resources are available to you. Julia was even the author of a filmmaking manual entitled “Doing It Yourself” in 1977. Through her work in creating space for independent films to be supported, as well as her activism towards spreading the stories of others, Julia Reichert leaves behind a legacy that will continue to help the filmmakers of today bring their projects to life and “get out” their own ideas.  

Learn more on the New Day Films website.