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Director with Hungarian Roots Snags Academy Award Nomination for ‘American Factory’

Fanni Kaszás 2020.01.14.

Although the Hungarian film close to snagging an Academy Award nomination in 2020, the post-Holocaust drama ‘Those Who Remained’, which has been included in the International Feature Film category, was unfortunately unable to reach the final round, there is still a Hungarian name among the nominees. American-Hungarian filmmaker Steven Bognar could still collect the award for Best Documentary Feature together with Julia Reichert for ‘American Factory.’ 

Steve Bognar is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and 2010 Oscar nominee for “The Last Truck,” a documentary about the closing of a General Motors plant in Moraine Ohio. He bagged his second Oscar nomination for ‘American Factory,’ a 2019 documentary film directed together with Julia Reichert. The film follows the story of “The Last Truck,” showing the creation of the Chinese-owned automotive glass-factory Fuyao in the same building that previously housed the closed General Motors plant. The film premiered at the 2019 Sundance Festival and is distributed by Netflix. It is also the first film distributed by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions. The film will compete with four other documentary features on February 9, 2020 at the 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater.

Bognar’s father, Bela J. Bognar, who passed away last September, was a Professor at Wright State University, also known as ‘Professor Paprika.’ He was born in Pakod, Hungary. Immediately after the 1956 Revolution he left the country for Belgium, eventually settling in the United States in 1961. He founded the Hungarian Scholarship Fund (HSF) to finance the educational needs of disadvantaged students of Hungarian descent. According to the American Hungarian Federation,  “Professor Paprika” raised scholarship funds through the annual sale of his own garden-grown peppers.

Steven Bognar’s first feature documentary, “Personal Belongings,” tells the story of his father, his young life in western Hungary, World War II, and “a cow named Sandy.”  The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival – just as his other films – and was screened in 27 other festivals, having won numerous awards. He won an Emmy Award for a “Lion in the House,” which gave a look at the cancer journeys of five young people, as well as their families over a six-year period.

Director with Hungarian Roots Wins Oscar for Best Documentary Feature

Last year, Chinese-American-Hungarian documentary filmmaker Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and her husband, climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin, took home the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Free Solo at the Oscars.

featured photo: Steven Bognar, Michelle Obama, Julia Reichert, Barack Obama (Michelle Obama Official Twitter)