Enron takes the 2nd Annual WGA Doc Prize…

Tonight I went to the 2006 Writers Guild Awards Documentary Screenplay Award Ceremony at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. A very lengthy title for an entertaining evening.

Although the WGA couldn’t pay for our drinks or parking, they did put together aimportant event for doc-makers. Appetizers and schmoozing started off the night before we were ushered into the Blossom Room. The room has a lot of history, the first (and second) Academy Award ceremonies were held there.

audience
The audience gets seated in the Blossom Room.

WGAw president, Patric Verrone started the night off with some interesting stats.

  • There has been a 90% increase in theatrical release of documentaries in 2005.
  • And that last year at the same event he insisted on having a writing credit on docs. This year the number of docs with a writing credit increased by 45%. Way to go Patric!

Patric
Patric Verrone gets things going.

He then brought up John Milio, Chair WGAw Nonfiction Writers Caucus. And thus began a night of well-told stories, I mean, who else but writers could really tell it all so well. A joke from Milio:

    Three screenwriters walk into a bar…
    (beat…wait for it…remember comedy is all in the timing)
    nobody gives a shit.

Mark Jonathan Harris then came up to introduce the clips and filmmakers from the nominated films. Here are a few quotes from the nominees…

Cowboy del Amor
Nominee: Michele Ohayon
“Once you find the subject you find the spine of the movie.”
“You have to be able to listen to the characters and let them speak for themselves.”

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Nominee: Alex Gibney
“I broke Rule #1A, never make a film about accounting – and you thought penguins were hard.”
“Enron is a film about asking the right questions.”

The Fall of Fujimori
Nominees: Zack Anderson, Ellen Perry, Kim Roberts
“I didn’t know if I was filming a movie or I was in a movie.” – Ellen Perry

March of the Penguins
Nominees: Michel Fessler & Luc Jacquet (French version), Jordan Roberts (English version)
“When I started writing the script I wanted to show that life was stronger than death.” – Michel Fessler

Street Fight
Nominee: Marshall Curry
“I wanted the narration to feel like it was part of the movie.”

It was refreshing to hear ALL the nominees speak. Everyone seemed very happy to be there and to be a part of this. After the final film had had its say, John Milio brought up James Woods (yes, that James Woods) to award the prize. To be honest I was quite glad that it was the calm and collected Mark Harris introducing all the filmmakers, because I could not have taken much more of James Woods exhausting charm. With intelligence and wit he talked about documentaries, his recent venture into moviemaking and a teeny hotel in London where he lived with Christopher Guest watching documentaries on the BBC about Ethiopian runners. It was a lot of information in a short amount of time and was somehow entrancing. Eventually he opened the envelope and announced the winner Alex Gibney for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.

Shortly after everyone spilled back into the lobby for cookies and coffee.

It was an elegant evening and one I will look forward to (and will take better pictures at) next year.

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