Dear NYWIFT Community,
Last week the independent film community lost a powerhouse, documentarian Julia Reichert. I was privileged to get to know Julia through my work at POV on PBS. Julia had been an advisor on the creation of POV, which presented her 1996 film Personal Belongings, as well as IFP, now known as The Gotham. She founded New Day Films, won a myriad of well-deserved industry awards including an Oscar, and was a mentor to many aspiring filmmakers – even writing the first book on self-distribution (aptly titled Doing It Yourself). She was a delightful force to be reckoned with.
I last saw Julia in 2019 when we both received honors at DOC NYC’s Visionaries tribute (along with Martin Scorsese, Michael Apted, and Reichert’s husband and collaborate Steven Bognar). I’m so glad that our last time together was so celebratory.
Among all her accolades and talents, Julia was also simply a lovely person and a devoted friend. We are proud to include two of Julia’s films among the list of projects supported by NYWIFT’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund (WFPF). Below is a note from former NYWIFT Executive Director Terry Lawler that pays tribute to Julia’s warm, kind, independent spirit.
CEO | Executive Director
New York Women in Film & Television
The NYWIFT Women’s Film Preservation Fund Remembers Julia Reichert
I met Julia Reichert in 1980 when I began working for the (now defunct, unfortunately) Film Fund, which provided grants to independent filmmakers for films on social issues. Though only a few years older than I, Julia had made one of the most important feminist films of the time —Growing Up Female — which I had studied in film school, and Union Maids, a landmark feminist and labor film.
Her work, with Jim Klein and later with Steven Bognar, was always intersectional, even before that term became widely used, dealing with racism, sexism, and classism. It has inspired countless young documentary makers, who hoped to make work that changed and inspired people the way Julia’s work did.
Julia kept in touch with me over the years, which is no surprise. As far as I could tell, she kept in touch with pretty much all of her friends and colleagues. But we were able to work more closely together a few years ago when the Women’s Film Preservation Fund of New York Women in Film & Television provided funding to restore and preserve Growing Up Female, Union Maids, and, working with NYU’s Moving Image Archive Program, preserved all of the ¾ inch tapes from the original interviews from Union Maids.
More recently, the WFPF helped to promote the retrospective of Julia’s work, which was put together by the Wexler Art Center and premiered at MoMA. The retrospective included both Union Maids and Growing up Female.
I last spoke to Julia at a screening in NYC of American Factory. She was, as always, optimistic, hopeful and really caring. I will miss her tremendously.
~ Terry Lawler
The Women’s Film Preservation Fund remembers filmmaker and organizer Julia Reichert for her profound impact on documentary arts and activism and her unwavering compassion toward others.