Oscar Night America at the Paramount

February 28, 2012

Charlottesville has quite a bit going to keep it on the map in the world of cinema: in particular, on Sunday night, it was home to one of only 49 official nationwide screenings of the 84th Annual Academy Awards. Oscar Night America at the Paramount Theater, a benefit for the Virginia Film Festival, proved to be a sparkling affair, attended by a varied and very sophisticated looking crowd. Charlottesville residents and supporters of the arts were present, as well as UVa students, professors and faculty. Jodie Kielbasa, the director of the Virginia Film Festival, teaches a class in Arts Administration at UVa, and gave some of his students the opportunity to volunteer at the event. One of them, Jesse Wright, glowed about the chance to see the Oscars in such a big way. For her, Kielbasa, through his extensive interaction with movies and cinema, "has really been able to impart a lot of his wisdom about film culture." Prior to the screening, guests were kept engaged with a silent auction and an incredible array of food and wine from Charlottesville restaurants and vineyards, such as Tempo, the Downtown Grille, and the Whiskey Jar. Hosts Tara Wheeler and Dan Schutte of the Charlottesville Newsplex kept the entertainment going during commercials with giveaways for the best- dressed audience members (a tough decision, to be sure) and for knowledge of film trivia. Their presentation made for great crowd interaction, making us almost—almost—feel as if we were in Hollywood. And of course, the screening itself was entirely enchanting. The programs were the same as those handed out at the true Academy Awards, and on the big screen, the magic of the movies felt entirely real. The winners' reactions seemed more absorbing and resonant than usual; perhaps the strongest and most satisfying of the wins was Meryl Streep's for Best Actress, after 30 years and 17 nominations. Upon exiting, attendees received charming gift bags, full of tokens to mark a truly memorable event that clearly contributes much to the Charlottesville arts community. --- By Jenni Weatherly, Iris Intern

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