92nd Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

SPEECH BY: Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar, Jeff Reichert


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A. (Julia Reichert) AMERICAN FACTORY. We did it.
A. (Steve Bognar) Hi. Oh, hi. Good to see you.

Q. My question is about, of course, Hungary. Would you please do a master class if you were invited in Hungary?
A. (Steve Bognar) I would be honored to come to Hungary and do a master class, sure. I don't know how much I have to teach, but I can try.

Q. The question is: How difficult it was to get financing and were there any difficult situations when you thought that you would stop filming?
A. (Steve Bognar) When we started making AMERICAN FACTORY we didn't even think about financing because we have a car, we have a camera, and we live 25 minutes from the factory. And we never want to start a movie where we don't have independence where we can, you know, we have to wait for money. We never want to start a movie like that. So we filmed for a year and a half before we even thought about money. But then we teamed up with Participant Media, the folks who did ROMA, RBG, so many great films. And when we were expanding the film, when we needed to go to China, when we needed to bring our Chinese filmmakers with whom to collaborate, then Participant Media and their funding was very, very important.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about -- obviously there's a lot going on with China and America these days with a lot of tensions fueled by the White House, so could you talk a little bit about what you saw in the film between the two cultures and how films like this might actually help bring us closer together?
A. (Julia Reichert) Oh, I'm glad you asked that question. What we saw in the plant was that working people, like the blue collar folks, whether they were Chinese or whether they were American, like, found ways to get along. Found ways to have fun, even if they didn't speak the same language -- which they mostly didn't; found ways to discover each other, you know, make the day go by faster. That's how it was for quite a long time when we were filming, it was like a honeymoon period. And I
think -- I mean, then when the pressure of profit came and the management and the owner started saying -- started speeding things up and started making things harder, then there began much more tensions. But I hope -- I hope our film makes you see two things:  One is that workers around the world are definitely getting pushed down. But also that we can be fair  to each other. We can listen to each other. You know, we can bridge -- I think that's why the President Obama and Mrs. Obama took on our film at Sundance, you know, because -- and it's, you know, their company is called Higher Ground Productions right, which is a great name. Because they felt it could help, you know, people listen to each other, and through stories, through these stories, you know, create empathy, which then builds relationships. Don't you think? I mean, that's what we all do. We sit down and we tell each other our story and it creates empathy, right? You sit in the shoes of the other and you can't --
A. (Steve Bognar) And there is no other.
A. (Julia Reichert) And there is no other, yeah. So anyway...

Q. So my question is for you, Julia. You are the second female filmmaker standing on this stage tonight, so congratulations, especially in the midst of what's happening with the Oscars and Golden Globes and so forth. So what message would you like to send out there to other female filmmakers, and what can we do to help support them so more of them can be on the stage holding an Oscar?
A. (Julia Reichert) Sisterhood, which is another way of saying solidarity, which is another way of saying support each other. I mean, how did -- when I first came to the Oscars in 1977, it was a sea of white men. Just a sea of white men in the press corps, all those photographers. It's getter better. Now, how did that happen? It's not by individual women.  It's because we started realizing we got to work together, I believe, right? Right? We got to support each other and not fit into the patriarchy, like, not fit into the boys' club. So what I would say? We don't have to do it the way the boys have done it. We can do it the way women want it done, whatever it is, and sisterhood.

Q. Two quick questions: First of all, did anybody call the Obamas tonight? Do they know about this? I'm sure they do now because you've already been on stage. What did they have to say? And second of all, you know, everybody is really -- all of these rumors are kind of going around the world about the Coronavirus, and I know, since you've been working with China, just speak to that, please.
A. (Steve Bognar) Well, we can't -- we don't know anything about whether the President and First Lady -- President Obama or Mrs. Obama were told yet.  You know, it's safe to say they probably heard the news. The Coronavirus is a very deadly, serious thing that is growing and spreading and it needs to be contained. We are sad because one of our co-producers, Mijie Li, who did so much for this film, was going to come to the Academy Awards, we had a ticket for her, and she could not attend. And also, the chairman, Chairman Cao Dewang, the founder of Fuyao who trusted us to tell this story and who didn't kick us out of his factory, even when things got really hard. He was going to come to the Academy Awards, we had a ticket for him, and he could not come because of the Coronavirus and the travel ban. So it's -- it's -- I mean, that -- that pales. I mean, that inconvenience pales compared to people losing their lives and suffering because of this virus, but our hearts go out to the people who are dealing with this very, very deadly virus.


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