February 25, 2013

Colby grad wins Oscar for short documentary film on Sunday

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — When Andrea Nix Fine was a student at Colby College, she was one of the earliest students to take the school’s only video production class.

In the spring of 1991 she worked on a project, one of her first, on children’s television programming for a class called American Dreams.

Just over 20 years later, the 1991 graduate won an Oscar on Sunday night for the short documentary “Inocente,” which she co-directed with her husband, Sean Fine.

“Last night still sinking in,” read a post from the Twitter feed of the couple’s company, Fine Films, on Monday morning. It was their first Academy Award and second nomination. It is also the first Academy Award for a Colby graduate, according to her former English professor, Phyllis Mannocchi.

The Fines couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, but they had posted pictures of the awards ceremony on their Facebook and Twitter accounts and thanked everyone who had supported the film, which was also the first “crowd-funded” film to win an Oscar. It was partially paid for by $52,527 raised through the online fundraising site Kickstarter, according to the film’s page on the website.

“Thank you to everyone who has supported us and Inocente! We couldn’t have done it without you!” read a post from the film’s Twitter feed. The tweet included a picture of Andrea in a floor-length black and white dress by the Miami designer Carlos Ramirez of Liancarlo designs and the Oscar in her hand. Joining her and her husband on stage was Inocente Izucar, the 15-year-old homeless girl whose life in a San Diego arts program the 40-minute film chronicles.

Next week, the film will be screened at Colby as part of its annual student-run SHOUT! week, which celebrates multiculturalism and community-building, according to the school’s website.

Mannocchi said she plans on screening the film earlier for students in her American Dreams class, the
same course that Andrea took.

“Those were days of very primitive video editing. She was always a good student, though, and a good filmmaker and editor,” said Mannocchi. The class looks at American-made documentaries about life in the country, she said.

Mannocchi said she has kept in touch with Andrea and watched her career grow. A native of upstate New York, Nix Fine was a philosophy major at the college and went on to work at National Geographic, where she met her husband, said Mannocchi.

According to a 2008 article in Colby magazine, the two founded Fine Films in 2003 and worked as co-directors of “War/Dance,” a film that follows students in a Ugandan primary school as they prepare for a national music competition.

It was an Academy Award nominee in 2008 and won an Emmy in 2010.

“Inocente” won awards at six other smaller festivals, including the San Antonio Film Festival and the Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival. 

The Fines also recently directed “Life According to Sam,” a documentary that is about one family’s fight to save their only son from a rare fatal disease called progeria. According to the Fine Films website, the movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and will be airing on HBO later this year.

Mannocchi said she wouldn’t be surprised if that film is nominated for an Oscar next year.

“I think there are probably going to be several more for Andrea and her husband. They’re a great team,” she said.

Mannocchi said she had a chance to catch up with them at the festival and is hoping to bring Nix Fine to speak at the college later this year.

“She is a wonderful teacher and has talked to students here before about what it is like to be a filmmaker. The students love her and she is full of good advice,” said Mannocchi.

“Inocente” will screen at Colby at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, in the Pugh Center at Cotter Union. The viewing is open to the public and admission is free.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

click image to enlarge

Sean Fine, left, and Andrea Nix Fine pose with their award for best documentary short subject for "Inocente" during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday.

John Shearer/Invision/AP

click image to enlarge

Inocente, the subject of the documentary focusing on a homeless young artist living in San Diego. “Inocente” won an Academy Award on Sunday.

Contributed photo

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