Dysinger (’77) credits experiences at NYU during a historic Academy Awards evening that saw six alumni and faculty represented among Oscar nominees
Carol Dysinger (’77), an alumna of NYU Tisch School of the Arts and associate professor in the Graduate Film program, earned an Academy Award in the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category for Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) at the 92nd annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles on February 9, 2020.
The short film tells the story of young Afghan girls learning to read, write, and skateboard in Kabul. In her acceptance speech, Dysinger spoke about winning a Student Academy Award in 1977, presented to her by one of America’s most influential film directors, Frank Capra. She credited the experience as the encouragement she needed to help her withstand the past four decades in the film industry.
“To get from Capra to here took a whole lot of not quitting and teachers—the kind I strive to be at NYU film school, and the kind of teachers at Skateistan, the school at the heart of the film—who teach girls courage, to raise your hand, to say ‘I am here, I have something to say and I’m going to take that ramp, don’t try to stop me’,” Dysinger said on stage at the Dolby Theatre after accepting the gold statuette. Skateistan—a school that offers young girls a rare opportunity to receive an education while developing their skills in an indoor skatepark—is the focus of Dysinger’s documentary.
In addition to her Oscar win, Dysinger took home a BAFTA for Best Short Film on February 2, 2020. The film has also won Best Documentary Short at Tribeca Film Festival and Best Short from the International Documentary Association. Dysinger has been working in Afghanistan since 2005 and called the film her “love letter to the brave girls of that country.”
The Academy Awards recognize outstanding film achievements and are the most prestigious in the industry. In total, six members of the NYU community were nominated for nine awards. An additional four NYU alumni and faculty worked on Oscar-nominated projects, including arts professor in the Graduate Film program Kasi Lemmons as the director and co-writer of the biopic Harriet and Chris Columbus (TSOA ’80) and Eleanor Columbus (TSOA ’11) as producers for psychological drama The Lighthouse. Julia Kennelly (TSOA '14) worked as a producer for the short film The Neighbors’ Window, which won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the award winners at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, February 9.
Below is the full list of NYU-related Oscar® nominees:
Martin Scorsese (WSC '64, STEINHARDT '68, HON. '92, Tisch Dean’s Council Member)
Todd Phillips (TSOA ’94)
Martin Scorsese (WSC '64, STEINHARDT '68, HON. '92, Tisch Dean’s Council Member), Producer
Jane Rosenthal (GAL ’77), Producer
Todd Phillips (TSOA ’94), Producer
Mark Bridges (TSOA ’87), Costume Designer
Documentary (Short Subject) - WINNER
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Carol Dysinger (TSOA ’77), Director
Tod Maitland (TSOA Professor)
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Todd Phillips (TSOA ’94), Screenwriter