Academy Award-winning filmmakers to discuss their work with Penn State community

February 24, 2020

Recently minted Academy Award-winning filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert will be participating via video conference in a discussion of their film "American Factory" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the HUB 132 Flex Theater. The discussion is part of the "Intersections: Landscapes of Labor" film series co-presented by Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and The Center for Global Workers’ Rights.

“Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert are among the leading documentary filmmakers working today, whose decades-long careers have covered everything from women’s activism to childhood cancer to issues of the American Rust Belt,” noted Peter Boger, assistant director for community engagement in the Sustainability Institute. “This screening offers Penn State’s community a rare opportunity to engage with master storytellers around issues of economic and social justice.”

"American Factory," which won the 2020 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature Film, examines what happens when a Chinese company takes over a closed General Motors factory. The story begins with a sometimes-humorous cultural clash between transplanted Chinese workers and their American counterparts. But it evolves into a discomforting story of the ways in which global economic competition threatens labor rights everywhere.

“American Factory is a must-watch film for anyone interested in international affairs, business, or cultural studies,” said Cate Bowman, assistant research professor of labor and employment relations and an affiliate of the CGWR. “The filmmakers afford us a remarkably unfiltered window into one Ohio factory’s rebirth and show us how it truly is a microcosm of globalization and the future of work.” 

Penn State will have an opportunity to engage with more of Bognar and Reichert’s work later in March, when their newest film, "9 to 5," screens at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at Kern 112, as part of the CGWR’s annual symposium. Following that screening will be a discussion with Karen Nussbaum, founding director of Working America, the grassroots political organizing arm of the American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO). She is also the co-founder of the 9to5, an organization that worked to elevate the voice and conditions of women office workers.

Since beginning in Spring 2019, "Landscapes of Labor" has attracted to date 600 attendees to five screening that show the intersections between workers’ rights, economic development and global sustainability. The series not only uses films to promote awareness but to build community, inviting student, labor and sustainability groups to screenings to share actions audiences can take to get involved with these issues. The series also uses the films to promote the 17 comprehensive global Sustainable Development Goals, which Penn State uses as its basis for incorporating sustainability into teaching, research, operations and outreach. 

All film screenings are shown unrated and are free and open to the public without advanced tickets. For more information about the series or to co-sponsoring future films and related activities, contact Peter Boger at or Manuel Rosaldo at


Last Updated February 24, 2020