Julia Reichert, the co-director of “American Factory,” appeared to invoke a communist slogan during an Oscars acceptance speech on Sunday night.
“Working people have it harder and harder these days — and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite,” Reichert said.
Reichert’s remark echoed the last lines of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ “Communist Manifesto,” in which the German philosophers declare: “Workers of the World, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!”
Amid an awards ceremony chock full of moments that laid bare Hollywood’s alignment with progressive ideals, conservatives on social media criticized Reichert for evoking the rallying cry for Communism.
Democratic establishment: "Let's not go full-on Communist yet. It might scare ordinary Americans."
Bernie Bro: "There's a reason Joseph Stalin had gulags, right?"
Julia Reichert: "Workers of the world, unite!"
Ordinary Americans: ?????https://t.co/tL5zXFUxRn
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) February 10, 2020
“If you had “directly quoted the Communist manifesto” in tonight’s Oscar, I believe it paid +4500 at the Venetian,” quipped The Washington Free Beacon senior writer David Rutz.
She really said workers of the world unite
— Comfortably Smug (@ComfortablySmug) February 10, 2020
Liberals, on the other hand, were kinder in their assessments of Reichert’s comments.
Julia Reichert is a hero.
She is battling cancer and up on the stage fighting for the working class people. American Factory is an incredible documentary. Please see it on Netflix. #Oscars
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) February 10, 2020
“American Factory,” a Netflix film from Barack and Michelle Obama’s nascent production house chronicling what happened to a group of Ohio autoworkers laid off during the 2008 recession, won the Oscar for best documentary feature on Sunday.
The documentary, directed by Reichert and fellow filmmaker Steven Bognar, was the first release from Higher Ground Productions, a company the former president and first lady formed in 2018 in a multiyear collaboration with the Netflix streaming service.
“American Factory” was acquired by Netflix in association with Higher Ground out of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it was awarded the U.S. documentary directing prize.
The film, examining themes of economic dislocation and clashing cultures, traces the experience of workers in Moraine, Ohio, who lost their jobs at a shuttered General Motors factory, only to be rehired six years later after the facility was converted into a Chinese-owned automotive glass plant. “Our film is from Ohio and China … but it really could be from anywhere that people put on a uniform, punch a clock, try to make their families have a better life,” Reichert said in accepting the award.
Neither of the Obamas attended Sunday’s ceremony, but Bognar mentioned Higher Ground Productions in his thank-yous from the stage.
“Congrats to Julia and Steven, the filmmakers behind American Factory, for telling such a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change,” Barack Obama later wrote on Twitter. “Glad to see two talented and downright good people take home the Oscar for Higher Ground’s first release.”
(Reuters contributed to this report.)