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'Totally honored just to be there' : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
'Totally honored just to be there'
Montgomery filmmaker's documentary an Oscar runner-up

by Tony Scott


The Montgomery resident nominated for an Oscar for his documentary film did not go home with an Academy Award Sunday evening, but he still had a great time and an unforgettable experience.

Edgar Barens, a 1979 graduate of Oswego High School, was nominated in the Documentary Shorts category for his film "Prison Terminal," about a dying inmate and the prisoner hospice workers who care for him and other inmates.

Barens was nominated along with four other filmmakers in that category. The winner was "The Lady In Number 6: Music Saved My Life," a film about a woman who was the oldest survivor of the Holocaust.

Barens, who embedded himself in an Iowa prison as part of his film project, said Monday that the whole experience was "pretty crazy."

"Going from living in a maximum security prison for six months to rubbing elbows with the Hollywood glitterati, it was crazy," he said. "But it felt, even though everyone was dressed to the nines, it really felt down to Earth in a weird way. Apart from everyone glammed out, and all the untouchable actors and actresses, for the most part I think the audience... we were all so happy to be there."

Barens acknowledged that it "sounds corny" but that he was "totally honored just to be there."

"It was very interesting to see how the show functions live, and when the commercials come on we all run to the bathroom and have two minutes to get back," he said.

Barens said walking the red carpet took around an hour and a half, with his publicist leading the way along the line of press who were more interested in talking to the big stars.

"(My publicist) would go up and give them a pitch of my film, and I'm in the background, and you see them shake their head, like, 'No, we're not interested,'" he said, laughing.

Barens did note that he accidentally "photobombed" Ryan Seacrest during his red carpet broadcast.

And, no, the nominees don't get any kind of a heads-up beforehand on whether they've won, Barens confirmed.

"You do find out right then and there," he said. "That's the nervewracking part of it."

He said the Oscars weren't much of an opportunity to "network" with other filmmakers.

"It really wasn't a networking situation - there was so much going on," he said.

Still, after the ceremony, Barens and other nominees hobnobbed with each other at the traditional Governor's Ball.

"It's this massive ballroom, and at that point is when all the hobnobbing, the networking happens - you're sitting down, eating, getting drinks," he said.

Even though he lost the Academy Award, Barens said he's "pushing forward."

"I was a little crestfallen initially, but there's tons of stuff to look forward to," he said.

Barens' film, "Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall" is set to debut on HBO on March 31.

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