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DISPATCH FROM LOS ANGELES: Doc Night Draws Famous & Infamous

DISPATCH FROM LOS ANGELES: Doc Night Draws Famous & Infamous

Actor Ben Stiller, Oscar winning documentarian Barbara Kopple, under-fire “Hurt Locker” producer Nicolas Chartier, actors from “The Wire” and “Watchmen” and maybe even a Lindsay Lohan sighting highlighted some of the events here in Los Angeles leading up to the big night. The social circuit picked up here leading into a busy few days of celebrating in advance of Sundays 82 Academy Awards.

A pair of parties and events saluted documentaries last night as the Oscar week hit hump day. At AMPAS’ Beverly Hills HQ, the Academy toasted its ten nominated documentaries for the first time, picking up an event that used to be hosted by the International Documentary Association.

The celebration, simply dubbed DOCS!, featured photo ops with a giant Oscar stature at an evening cocktail party — a buffet, cocktails and dessert — followed by clips and panels showcasing the non fiction feature and short films nominees.

“Thanks for bringing us all together,” praised Barbara Kopple, touting bonds within the documentary film community that were exposed on Wednesday night’s warm AMPAS event. She spoke of a, “real sense of community, a real sense of caring about each other and a real sense of support.”

Doc short film nominees Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill, aniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, Roger Ross Williams and Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra. Photo by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

Watching snippets and then listening to the filmmakers chat about their work on stage with Kopple, some common themes emerged, namely a thread of ambition surrounding their work.

“We’re citizens with cameras is how we look at it,” explained Julia Reichert, co-director (with Steven Bognar) of “GM: The Last Truck.” Throughout the night, many of her colleagues spoke of a similar goal of telling stories that might otherwise be overlooked.

In the case of Roger Ross Williams, director of “Music by Prudence,” the filmmaker said simply, “I wanted to tell a hopeful story about Africans controlling their own destiny.” A clip from the movie was warmly received and the director said that he’d be joined by his subject at the event on Sunday.

Anders Ostergaard, director of “Burma VJ,” echoed the power of the nominated documentary subject this year, saying, “Normal people are able to do extraordinary things,” he said, reflecting on the masses depicted in his film.

“We make documentaries because we believe in them so passionately that we have to tell the story,” Kopple reiterated at the event.

The After Party.

After the AMPAS doc event, many folks headed over to Andaz on Sunset for a penthouse bash celebrating “The Cove.” Distributor Roadside Attractions welcomed an eclectic mix of folks to the soiree, from the aforementioned boldfaced names to a host of documentary community insiders and filmmakers.

Given the buzz in LA in recent days, though, it was “Hurt Locker” producer Nicolas Chartier who had party-goers buzzing. Given the state of the world and the many natural disasters facing folks in Chile or Haiti, the Frenchman seemed genuinely surprised by all the worldwide interest in his recent emails on behalf of “The Hurt Locker.”

“I’m fine,” he smiled, when asked about his well-being after being barred from attending Sunday’s Oscar ceremony. Hanging out by the pool on a cool March night, Chartier was approached by many who simply wanted to shake his hand or pat him on the back and wish him their best. He hardly seemed upset last night.

“Chartier has never gotten so many e-mails, mostly supportive,” wrote Anne Thompson today, detailing the encounter with Chartier at the party last night on her site, “His multiple Voltage Entertainment projects are moving forward with speed and alacrity. He’s now known all over the world.”

Win or lose, Chartier will be partying with WME’s Graham Taylor and producer Lynette Howell during the show on Sunday night, as Thompson noted.

After watching the Oscars on TV, he’ll jump into a limo and head over to the Vanity Fair party.

The 82nd Documentary Oscar nominees for feature and short film:

Documentary (Feature)
“Burma VJ”, Anders Ostergaard and Lise Lense-Moller
“The Cove”, Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens
“Food, Inc.”, Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”, Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
“Which Way Home”, Rebecca Cammisa

Documentary (Short Subject)
“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”, Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”, Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
“Music by Prudence”, Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
“Rabbit a la Berlin”, Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

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