Kiwis take home Oscar honours
09 Mar 2010
It was New Zealand’s night at the Academy Awards, as Kiwis swept up Oscars for best visual effects and art direction for Avatar.
Auckland man Kim Sinclair, the art director for Avatar - the top grossing movie of all time, won the Oscar for art direction, and a team from Wellington’s Weta Digital walked away with the Oscar for best visual effects. All five were present at the star-studded Hollywood awards ceremony.
Sinclair, who was there with his wife and 16-year-old daughter, said he accepted the prestigious golden statuette on behalf of an enormous team of Kiwis.
"Over the entire period of the film production in New Zealand, there were probably approaching 2000 people who worked on it," Sinclair said.
Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew Jones from Weta Digital were also present to accept their Oscar, which came close on the heels of the BAFTA they received for the same category in London last month.
Avatar, which was largely filmed in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, capped off the night with a cinematography award.
Sinclair’s involvement with Avatar started in 2006, when he was shown a small animated short of the concept by legendary Hollywood director James Cameron.
"It was about 10 - 12 minutes with voice-over and music, and I was actually blown away. It was the most visual film experience I ever had and was just amazing. I thought: man, if we pull this off, it would be pretty interesting," he said.
Sinclair’s teenage daughter Electra was particularly excited about attending the Academy Awards - the Auckland student wore a vintage dress that she bought from a local store and along with her mother, Kirsten, spent the night celebrity-spotting, much to her father’s amusement.
The after-party was just as glamorous as the main Oscars event. Sinclair and his family were chauffeured there in an eight-person limousine.
"It was just us and another family, and we went to a Fox party where we partied for a while and then at 1am, we went to a ‘Vanity Fair’ party which had more security than the Oscars! But we just wound down the window of the limo and waved the golden statue and they let us through."
Sinclair’s not sure where he’ll be keeping his Oscar statuette yet when he gets home.
"At the moment, my daughter is clutching it to her bosom. She’s not letting it out of her sight!"
'Avatar' filmed in Wellington
Avatar is a 3D science-fiction film written and directed by James Cameron. The movie was filmed in Wellington and Weta Digital supervised the special effects, with additional live photography carried out on Weta’s sound-stages.
The movie follows an ex-US marine who finds himself amid hostilities on an alien planet populated by natives called the Na’vi. As an avatar - a human mind in an alien body - he falls in love with a local girl and joins resistance fighters in a battle for survival.
Avatar has so far grossed US$2.5 billion and is the best-selling movie of all time, knocking out the top spot occupied by Titanic - another James Cameron movie, since 1995.
82nd Academy Awards
The 82nd Academy Awards ceremony, held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, was hosted by US actors Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.
American director Kathryn Bigelow, who is also James Cameron’s ex-wife, went down in history as the first woman ever to win the Oscar for best director for her movie, The Hurt Locker, about the Iraq war. The film went on to win five other awards including the coveted best picture.
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