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Quendrith Johnson


Quendrith Johnson is filmfestivals.com Los Angeles Correspondent covering everything happening in film in Hollywood... Well, the most interesting things, anyway.
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Film Fest 919 celebrates NC’s Ariana DeBose, her Oscar nom for WEST SIDE STORY & Contenders

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

During Award Season, no doubt it's the worldwide circuit of film festivals that helps shape predictions and forecasts for feature film (and TV) standouts that will resonate each year, and Film Fest 919 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina has become one of the key indicators to watch for trends leading up to the biggest show of all, The Oscars.

Founders Randi Emerman and Carol Marshall hit the target again this time, with their 2021 choices ringing true as revealed by the recent 94th Oscar noms, not to mention NC native Ariana DeBose, who is celebrating a Best Supporting nom for WEST SIDE STORY. Read on...

From Screenmancer: Film Fest 919 (FF919) lived up to its “Catch the Films Before They Catch On” motto with advance buzz on films featured at their 2021 Festival that have received Oscar nominations, including Audience Favorite winner King Richard, plus Flee, Spencer, The Hand of God, The Lost Daughter, The Worst Person in the World and Spotlight Award Honoree, Diane Warren, who just received a head-spinning thirteenth Oscar nomination. North Carolina’s own Ariana DeBose received her very first nomination for Best Supporting Actress nomination in West Side Story. 

DeBose, 31, who grew up in Raleigh and settled in Lake Forest, plays “Anita” in the Rita Moreno role from the 1961 Jerome Robbins’ choreographed musical directed by Robert Wise. Hers is one of seven total noms for Spielberg’s love letter to the original film’s lyricist Stephen Sondheim that is this, now Oscar-nominated, 60th anniversary remake of West Side Story.

Ariana DeBose hails from Broadway, and is also known for her pop culture turn in the sixth season of TV's “So You Think You Can Dance.” But her role in the stage and film version of Hamilton began the on-screen excitement for this Tony winner, now an Oscar nominee directed by Spielberg.

“We are proud to have been a small part of the long journey to Oscar gold for our 2021 alumni films that played during the October festival. And we’re equally excited that all of the films in our FF919 Contenders series, which kicks off Thursday, each received nominations as well,” commented FF919 Founders Randi Emerman and Carol Marshall.

Based on The Academy’s 94th Oscar Nominations announcement on Tues. Feb. 8, there were 54 nominations for 13 films that were showcased at the festival and in The Contenders Series. Film Fest 919 alumni films have also received nominations and wins from Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, Film Independent Spirit Awards, Hollywood Guilds – WGA, DGA, PGA and SAG - and major critics groups, numbering well over 2000 nods collectively.

Here’s a round-up of #FF919’s spot-on choices: KING RICHARD, their Opening Night film and winner of Film Fest 919’s Audience Favorite Award, received 6 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Will Smith, Best Supporting Actress for Aunjanue Ellis, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Original Song.

DIANE WARREN, Spotlight Award Honoree, received her 13th nomination for Best Original Song, “Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days.

FLEE made history receiving three nominations, one for Documentary Feature and International Feature Film and for Animated Feature.

SPENCER received a nomination for Kristen Stewart for Best Actress. THE HAND OF GOD reached in for a Best International Feature nom.

THE LOST DAUGHTER received three nominations including Best Actress for Olivia Colman, Best Supporting Actress for Jessie Buckley and Best Adapted Screenplay.

THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD nabbed two nominations, one for Best International Feature and for Best Original Screenplay.

In the FF919 Contenders Series: BEING THE RICARDO garnered three nominations for Best Actor for Javier Bardem, Best Actress for Nicole Kidman and Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons.  

[photo] Javier Bardem, from left, Nicole Kidman, Nina Arianda, J.K. Simmons and Aaron Sorkin attend Amazon Studios "Being the Ricardos" Los Angeles Premiere on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.

DON’T LOOK UP shocked with four nominations including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Original Score and Best Film Editing. DUNE epic took 10 nominations including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Make Up and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects, Original Score.

MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES took a Best Animated Feature nom. THE

POWER OF THE DOG, the powerhouse indie from Jane Campion, came in with 12 nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst for Supporting Actress and for Supporting Actor for Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee, Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Sound, and Original Score.

WEST SIDE STORY, Spielberg’s love letter to Sondheim, received seven nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg, supporting actress for Raleigh’s own Ariana DeBose, Best cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design and Sound.

FF919 is founded and run by Randi Emerman, VP of Programming for Silverspot Cinemas and co-founder/former CEO of the Palm Beach International Film Festival whose multi-faceted career spans production, marketing, theatrical exhibition and distribution, and Carol Marshall, veteran publicist for a wide variety of entertainment clients including such previous film festivals as Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Sonoma and Bermuda international film fests. FF919 is a thoughtfully curated, inclusive festival with a commitment to bold, director-driven programming and is especially supportive of female and diverse filmmakers.

Visit Chapel Hill, NC and #FilmFest919 here.

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