Wednesday, February 29, 2012

AFF at the Oscars

There were a lot of proud faces on television screens around the world Sunday night, as the Academy Awards presented their annual prizes to a few lucky filmmakers.  In fact, anyone who played a part in the triumph of an Oscar-winning film had reason to be proud, particularly those involved with the Best Picture winner, “The Artist.” Originally screened at Cannes, this little black-and-white silent French film that initially scared away distributors eventually charmed the world, taking home 5 Oscars by the end of the evening.

The thought of marketing a film like “The Artist” was naturally a concern for all involved, including festivals like AFF.  Even though most of us who programmed the film had seen it at Telluride or Toronto and knew how great it was, convincing everyone else of that fact was a different matter altogether.  Ultimately, we at AFF decided to screen “The Artist” at the Paramount Theatre, Austin’s beautiful classic movie palace, and the experience of seeing that particular film in that particular cinema was truly unparalleled. The film went on to win our Audience Award, and we couldn’t be prouder to have our trophy join the growing number of statues on this wonderful film’s shelf.

Nothing brings the staff of a film festival greater joy than seeing one of its programmed films going on to conquer the hearts and minds of moviegoers everywhere. We were also so pleased to see “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” which won both our Jury and our Audience Award for Best Animated Short, go on to win the Oscar in that category.  I can remember the day that my fellow film programmer, Stephen Belyeu, and I watched that film for the first time.  We both knew we had just seen something very special, and we were so honored to introduce it to our festival audience and the Austin moviegoing community at large.  Those are the moments that make this job so rewarding, and we can’t wait to do it all over again this October.  Here’s to another year at the movies!

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