It’s almost Oscar night! The upcoming ceremony is creating some buzz around Westchester since it will feature nominees with local ties to the area.
One of the most talked about movies during this award season, La La Land, has some local ties through producer Fred Berger. He was a 1999 graduate of Mamaroneck High School (MHS) with connections to the non-for-profit Center for Continuing Education. In fact, the already award-winning producer will be reconnecting with his MHS film teacher at Mamaroneck High School on Mar. 8 for The Center for Continuing Education’s Notable Neighbors program to discuss the film industry and his success.
Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington was born in Mount Vernon and grew up in the area until he enrolled at Fordham University, later moving to San Francisco. During his time in Mount Vernon, Washington joined the Boys Club of Mt. Vernon (now the Boys and Girls Club) where he spent his free time while his parents worked. Washington is nominated for his role in Fences, which is a Best Picture nominee itself.
Mel Gibson is nominated in the Best Director category for Hacksaw Ridge — also a Best Picture nominee. Gibson was born in Peekskill in 1956, where he lived until the late 1960s when he moved to Australia.
Although not Westchester specific, four other movies are casting a spotlight onto the New York film industry: Best Picture nominee Manchester By the Sea, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing nominee Deepwater Horizon, Best Cinematography nominee Silence, and Best Production Design nominee Hail, Caesar! These films took advantage of New York State’s tax-credit program designed to attract producers to work in the state; the movies received tax credits in exchange for their post-production work, but the program also offers credits for production work, too.
The Academy Awards airs Feb. 26 on ABC and will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.