Dayton-Area Filmmaker Julia Reichert Talks About Her 50-Year Retrospective That's Coming to the Cinematheque

click to enlarge Dayton-Area Filmmaker Julia Reichert Talks About Her 50-Year Retrospective That's Coming to the Cinematheque
Courtesy of the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque
Almost 50 years ago, director Julia Reichert, a Dayton-area filmmaker who’s now a three-time Oscar nominee, launched her career with Growing Up Female, a film she made while attending Antioch College. The movie examines female socialization through the lives of six women.

It’s one of several films that will show as part of Julia Reichert: 50 Years in Film, a retrospective coming to the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque next week.

“We still have the patriarchy, and we still have sexism, and women are still narrowly defined, though much more broadly defined now than we were back when I came of age in the late ’60s,” Reichert says in a recent phone interview. “I went to college in the late '60s, which I know seems like a really long time ago, but it was a very defining period. We learned to question authority. We learned that the government wasn’t always right. We learned that through organizing with the anti-war movement and the Civil Rights Movement that we could make a difference. The Women’s Movement, which was the one that was the most powerful for me, changed more deeply more aspects of our culture here than any other movement. If you think about it, the Women’s Movement demanded change in the kitchen, the bedroom, the workplace and all parts of life. It was quite successful.”

The retrospective runs from Nov. 21 thru Dec. 15. It started to come together a couple of years ago when New York-based Chicken and Egg Pictures gave Reichert an award and asked her what she would like to do for the rest of the year in honor of receiving the recognition.

“It just came out of my mouth, and I said, ‘You know, I have never had a retrospective,'” Reichert says.

And just like that, it was on.

She met with Dave Filipi, the Director of Film and Video at the Wexner Center in Columbus. Since Chicken and Egg is located in New York, they wanted the retrospective to open in New York. They pitched it to the head of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s film department. He got on board.

“It was amazing how quickly everyone said, ‘Yes,’” says Reichert. “That got the ball rolling, and we had to get all the films restored. The Wexner Center made this beautiful book to go with the retrospective too. It’s really nice.”

Reichert will appear in person at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, to present her new work-in-progress, 9TO5: The Story of a Movement, at the Cinematheque. Then, on Friday, Nov. 22, she’ll appear at 12:15 p.m. as the speaker at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s free, weekly Lunch on Friday lecture series, where she’ll talk about her life and career. At 7 that night, she’ll present her 1976 feature, Union Maids, at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The rest of the schedule includes A Lion in the House (Nov. 25), Growing Up Female/Methadone: An American Way of Dealing (Dec. 1); American Factory/The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant (Dec. 5); and Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists (Dec. 15), which features scenes shot in Cleveland. All of these films will screen at the Cinematheque.

 Over the years, Reichert has received three Academy Award nominations, a Primetime Emmy Award, a Sundance directing award, a 2018 Career Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association, and a slot on the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

“In the beginning, almost everything we shot is in the film,” says Reichert when asked about how her filmmaking has evolved. “We didn’t even really know how to operate a tape recorder. I’ve learned a lot more about interviewing people, and I’ve learned a lot about how to research and use archival footage."

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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