So in the end, we didn't quite make it a northern Oscar night. Our champion Carol Grayson was in the five-strong short-list for Best Short Documentary but she and her colleagues were pipped to the post.
You can read here about her work as executive producer of Incident in New Baghdad, an extraordinary sequence of events which followed her inspirational role campaigning to uncover the truth about tainted blood supplied to haemophiliacs in the 1970s and Eighties.
She had planned to watch the Hollywood glitzfest but then realised that she didn't have the right TV hookup; so she settled for the news-banners streamed across the screen on free channels, bobbing in and out from working on her latest project. She'd laid in pizza and her usual pile of KitKats (into which Chris Thomond and I made inroads when we interviewed her for last week's piece). And she was genuinely pleased with the result.
The winner was a stunning film, Saving Face, about acid attacks on the faces of women in Pakistan, which earned that country its first ever Oscar. Grayson says:
It's magnificent to have a film about this subject winning an Oscar. It made me feel part of it, both as a woman and as someone with many friends in Pakistan. I left a good luck message with Sharmeen Obaid Chanoy last week and I share her delight and admire the way her work inspires and offers hope to women in very difficult circumstances.
Grayson's own next project is likely to be about collateral damage caused by drone attacks in Pakistan, taking in the fate of her friend and fellow campaigner Saleem Shahzad. She reckons film is an especially powerful way of giving a voice to whistleblowers, especially in harness with the internet. And the possible hike of major awards. She says:
If you'd told me a year ago that this little film, Incident in New Baghdad, would have anything to do with the Oscars, I'd just have laughed. But it won top prize at Tribeca. And now this.
We didn't expect even to be nominated as our subject was anti-war and linked to material from WikiLeaks.
In the lead up to the Oscars, James Spione, our dirtector, and Ethan McCord, the former US Army soldier whose experiences are at the heart of the film, have had the opportunity of screenings in the US and the chance to engage with the public on the reality of the war in Iraq, 'collateral damage' and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The documentary was also an important reflection of the work of WikiLeaks, without whom there would have been no Incident in New Baghdad. If the public had access to more information from governments and institutions they could make informed choices regarding social and political issues in society.
We hope Incident in New Baghdad will be shown in the UK and that funds can be raised to expand the short documentary into a longer film project. All in all it has been a very positive experience. I became involved with documentaries at a later stage in my life without training in film making, so I am very happy that the two films I have worked on have received nominations. (The previous one was a BBC Newsnight documentary on the blood scandal which was nominated for a Royal Television Society award).
I hope James and Ethan are taking time off to enjoy the Oscar parties. For me its business as usual but looking forward to new challenges. That's the excitement of life: seize an opportunity where you can; if not make your own.
It's a motto which also underlay the work of Grayson's cousin Peter Huntley, whose sad death in a Lake District fell-walking accident was reported in the Guardian Northerner last week.
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