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Contest winners and more

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Two things were obvious on the heels of last week's Academy Awards telecast. First, it was clearly one of the more entertaining Oscar shows in recent memory (note to Michael Moore: God bless you. Even though the Hollywood hypocrites turned their back on you, I applaud your conviction in telling it like it is). Second, there were so many surprises that it made the nation's professional Oscar prognosticators look like rank amateurs (practically no one had predicted The Pianist would win any Oscars, let alone three major ones in the categories of Actor, Director and Adapted Screenplay). On the homefront, this translated into my going 3-for-8 picking the top awards, my worst outing in 18 years of handicapping the Oscars (overall, I went 12-for-20, a better average but still no world beater).Turning to folks who enjoyed a more enviable percentage, 53 Carolinians who entered CL's annual Oscar I.Q. Contest (co-sponsored by AMC Theatres) went 10-for-10 in our multiple choice quiz. Out of these respondents, a random drawing determined the winners, all from Charlotte: John L. Dunmore won first place (30 passes good at the AMC theaters at Carolina Pavilion and Concord Mills), Catherine Smith took second place (20 passes), and Rebecca Flaugher scored in third place (10 passes). Congrats to the winners, and thanks to all who entered.

Though the best film of 2002 predictably went 0-for-4 at the Oscars, Far From Heaven found solace elsewhere, emerging as the big winner at the annual Independent Spirit Awards (held the day before the Oscars). Heaven went 5-for-5 at this shindig, taking honors for Best Picture, Actress (Julianne Moore), Supporting Actor (Dennis Quaid), Director (Todd Haynes) and Cinematography.On the other end of the spectrum, the annual Razzie Awards were also handed out that day. Swept Away was the big winner (or loser, depending on your point of view) with five honors, including Worst Picture and Worst Actress for Madonna (who tied with Crossroads' Britney Spears).

Far From Heaven was released on video and DVD yesterday; Swept Away, which never played Charlotte theatrically, was released on video and DVD in February.

One final award aside: Even in light of the war, all this talk of postponing and/or toning down the Oscars frankly struck me as perplexing and preposterous. After all, it's not like anybody was suggesting that the NCAA Tournament be postponed, or the networks cancel all prime-time sit-coms, or families refrain from dining out, or anybody not doing anything that even remotely gave them pleasure or at least a sense of normalcy. As reported on IMDb, honorary Oscar winner Peter O'Toole had the final word on the matter in the press room after the awards: "If we civilians can't go on properly [in times of war], what in the world are they fighting for?"The Light Factory is currently accepting films for consideration for their Third Annual Carolinas Filmmaker Showcase, which will be held Friday, May 16, at Spirit Square. Films must be 30 minutes or less in length and must either be made by a director from the Carolinas or contain content related to the Carolinas. All genres are accepted, and preview screeners must be in VHS format. Filmmakers will be paid a screening fee. Deadline for submissions is April 15. For more information, call Wendy Fishman at 704-333-9755, e-mail her at wendy@lightfactory.org, or go online to www.lightfactory.org.

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival recently expanded its programming to include more screenings and discussions in this year's event, set to be held April 10-13 in Durham. The organization has also finalized its schedule, with some of the highlights to include the world premiere of Seabiscuit, starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and newly anointed Oscar winner Chris Cooper; a compilation screening of The Blues, a series of interpretive films directed by, among others, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Wim Wenders; and "An Evening with Jonathan Demme." On the local front, Charlotte native Ross McElwee's Bright Leaves, a look at the tobacco industry in North Carolina, will be presented as a work-in-progress, as will Charlotte filmmaker Curtis Gaston's Rebels (working title), which explores both sides of the Confederate flag issue in South Carolina. For com- plete details, go online to www.fullframefest.org.Spirit Square will serve as the venue for The New York Underground...Short Film Showcase, a program of award-winning short films from several Big Apple filmmakers. The event, which will take place Saturday, April 26, will include appearances by some of the filmmakers as well as an after-party at Vargas Lounge. Plans are still being finalized, but for general info, call 704-492-2519.

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