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MICA-Affiliated Documentary Wins an Oscar

Latest news coverage includes radio interview with Marc Steiner, in-depth profile of Prudence by Sun film critic

Posted 04.20.10 by MICA Communications

"Music by Prudence" film still.

Music by Prudence, a documentary short subject film co-produced by Patrick Wright, chair of MICA's video and film arts department, has won an Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced March 7. The film follows the lives of eight physically disabled young Zimbabweans who play in the Afro-fusion band, Liyana. It aired on HBO2 beginning on Wednesday, May 12.

After winning, Wright said, "I'm speechless. I'm ecstatic. I never really thought we could win an Oscar about a beautiful singer from a broken country."

The Maryland Film Festival screened Music by Prudence during two evenings with a Q&A with Prudence Mabhena, who is featured in the documentary, Wright and director Roger Ross Williams on Friday, May 7 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 9 at 5 p.m. Details and updates are available on the festival's Web site here.

Patrick WrightWright, who also was the associate editor for Music by Prudence (iThemba Productions Inc.), obtained seed funding for the documentary through MICA's Office of Research. Errol Webber Jr. '08 was one of Music by Prudence's cinematographers. He shot the film less than two weeks after his graduation from the College, making him the youngest cinematographer ever to shoot an Oscar-winning (or -nominated) film. Matt Davies '09 worked extensively on sound post-production after interning on the project with several other of Wright's students.
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VIDEO: Watch HBO's trailer.
VIDEO: Williams thanked MICA and Wright on the Oscars' Thank You Cam and the Larry King Live show.
VIDEO: Webber visited MICA and described his Oscar experience in an interview.
READ: More media coverage links can be found at the bottom of this Web story.

Wright became a filmmaker because he wanted to learn, to venture out of himself and his narrow slice of reality, to expand his vision and to translate it for others. He has made films on HIV/AIDS, clergy sexual abuse and a profile of Ann Coulter, one of the most controversial political commentators of our day. He has produced a number of documentary shorts, many of which have exhibited in fine arts galleries throughout the United States, including Artist's Space in New York City.

Wright was originally hired in MICA's photography department with a mandate to develop a video major, which came to fruition in 2003. The department now has many undergraduate majors who produce video works in a wide range of forms, from narrative to documentary, experimental to installation work, and motion graphics to Web-based multi-media projects.

The field of Documentary Short Subject contenders for the 82nd Academy Awards was narrowed from 37 eligible entries to eight films in October, and then further narrowed to five finalists, including Music by Prudence, in February.

(In approximate chronological order) Wright was interviewed about the Oscar nomination by The Baltimore Sun and International Documentary Association. Wright and Webber discussed the nomination in a second story by the Sun and on WYPR-88.1 FM's Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast. The Sun covered Music by Prudence in a third story after the award was announced; so did Jamaica Gleaner News. The documentary's inclusion in the Maryland Film Festival has been covered on the Sun film critic's blog, WYPR-88.1 FM's The Signal and WEAA-88.9 FM's The Marc Steiner Show, and in Urbanite, while the South Orange Patch, Wright's hometown New Jersey paper, profiles him; and several Zimbabwean newspapers, including The Zimbabwean, featured Mabhena's visit to the United States for the premiere.

Image captions (top to bottom): Film still from Music by Prudence, courtesy of iThemba Productions Inc.; Patrick Wright headshot

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls nearly 3,500 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 48 states and 61 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. Redefining art and design education, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.

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