Oscar party brought out the gold at the MV Film Center

Oscar party brought out the gold at the MV Film Center

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Michael Achille, looking like a Hollywood mogul, posed with the 1948 statuette. — Photo by Susan Safford

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center lay down the red carpet Sunday night to celebrate the American movie industry’s biggest bash of the year, the Academy Awards. The fundraiser attracted about 80 film buffs, some in formal dress, but most decked out in what could best be described as Vineyard formal. Everyone came to have fun.

An actual Oscar statuette, loaned for the occasion by Chilmark resident Robert George, son of an Oscar winner, was available for photos. Edgartown photographer David Welch, who donated his services to the event, photographed anyone wishing to pose with the authentic touchstone of Hollywood glamor.

Bernadette Cormie of Herring Run Kitchens served hors d’oeuvres as wine and movie talk flowed through the colorful, crowded lobby of the new film center prior to the main event, which was broadcast live on the theater’s big screen.

The Times asked many of those in attendance to pick the winners. Opinions varied widely.

“My hot pick is “Silver Lining Playbook,” said Kenny Ivory of Edgartown. “I would really like to see it win. It has a good story line, good acting but I think Argo will win. Oscars are very political. The fact that the director got snubbed will help the movie. Somebody said they thought Lincoln would win. I said you gotta be kidding me: the Republicans can’t win anything.”

Once the show began the modern theater became the Island’s biggest living room as the crowd, treats and beverages in hand, took their seats. Richard Paradise, founder of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, encouraged the crowd to move around and get seconds on the refreshments and snacks.

There was the occasional hum of groups of people who talked, mostly asking and answering movie questions. Some sang with the songs they knew and most laughed at the series of comic sketches and jokes throughout the program.

Applause was scattered for the most part, not as frequent as that coming from the live Hollywood show, but when the Film Center’s favorite movies were mentioned it was a different story. The biggest applause of the evening shook the theater when “Searching for Sugarman,” which has screened at the center more than 20 times, won for best documentary.

Oscar, the real deal

The Oscar in the lobby was awarded for the 1948 film “Toward Independence,” a winner in the best documentary short subject category. The film was made by George L. George, father of Chilmark resident Robert George.

The elder Mr. George, who was French, had married an American woman in 1933 and had lived in The United States before moving to Paris where they were living when the German army attacked the city in 1940. He fought with the French Army and with the French Resistance during the early years of World War II in northern France and at Dunkirk before returning to the United States in 1941.

The elder Mr. George had been a newspaperman and had worked with the filming crew of a French search expedition for the lost aviatrix Amelia Earhart in 1937. He made the award-winning film while working for the U.S. Army Signal Corps after the war. The younger Mr. George said the film was made to show how well the Army was treating disabled veterans returning from World War II.

In 1950, Mr. George went to Israel to film a documentary on The Weizmann Institute of Science, today one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary research institutions. He also directed a film called “House on the Hill” about a family that had immigrated to Palestine to escape the Nazis in the same year.

He later worked directing TV commercials and formed the Screen Directors International Guild, later heading up the Directors Guild of America. He wrote about and reviewed movies for a variety of publications during the last decades of his life.