One Oscar and Five Spirit Awards Go to NYU Tisch School of the Arts Alumni and Students


New York University Tisch School of the Arts’ alumnus Victor J. Zolfo ‘85 won an Oscar for Achievement in Art Direction for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at the 81st annual Academy Award ceremony last night at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Zolfo is a graduate of the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television’s Undergraduate Film division.

On Saturday night, in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica the 2009 Film Independent Spirit Awards were given out. Two students and three alumni from the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television’s Graduate Film division and one alumnus from the Drama Department were winners. They are: Margaret Brown ‘04 won the 15th annual LACOSTE Truer Than Fiction Award for The Order of Myths; James Franco, 1st year student, won Best Supporting Male for Milk; and Mark Heyman, thesis student, was the associate producer of The Wrestler, which won Best Feature; and Charlie Kaufman ‘89 won Best First Feature, and Kaufman and Philip Seymour Hoffman ‘89 won Robert Altman Awards for Synecdoche, New York.

The Spirit Awards is a celebration honoring films made by filmmakers who embody independence and who dare to challenge the status quo. This annual event, which began as a small grassroots program, has grown into one of the most anticipated events of the indie film year.

In addition to Zolfo, six other alumni of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, and Gallatin School of Individualized Study were nominated for Oscars this year. They are: Philip Seymour Hoffman ‘89, for Actor in a Supporting Role in Doubt; Elliot Graham ‘99, for Achievement in Film Editing for Milk; Dan Jinks ‘85, for Best Motion Picture for Milk; Lora Hirschberg ‘85, for Achievement in Sound Mixing for The Dark Knight; John Patrick Shanley ‘77 for Adapted Screenplay of his play Doubt; and Ellen Kuras ‘88, ‘90 for Best Documentary for The Betrayal (Nerakhoon).

In addition, Tisch School Dean’s Council member Brian Grazer was nominated for Best Motion Picture for Frost/Nixon.

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