BIG WINNER Jeff Malmberg’s Marwencol earned him two awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics.
Last year at the annual awards ceremony for the Boston Society of Film Critics (of which I'm a member), Jeremy Renner, recipient of the Best Supporting Actor Award for The Hurt Locker, was asked during a Q&A whether he thought he might get the same prize at the upcoming Academy Awards. "My friend," he said, holding up the BSFC's framed certificate, "I've already got mine."
Renner may have been generous equating that prize to the most coveted honor in cinema. On the other hand, in its fourth year the BSFC awards ceremony has built up some cachet of its own. Taking place at the venerable Brattle Theatre, and hosted by Society member Joyce Kulhawik, it offers a mix of Boston and Hollywood, with acknowledgements of local achievements as well as celebrity guest recipients — like Renner last year and Best Actor Frank Langella three years ago.
This year the special guest is Jeff Malmberg, director of Marwencol, and winner of both the Society's Best Documentary Award and the David Brudnoy Award for Best New Filmmaker. Original and engaging, the film profiles outsider artist Mark Hogancamp, who, after suffering brain damage from a savage beating, rehabilitated himself by creating the miniature World War II village of the title.
In addition to a screening of the film and a discussion with Malmberg, the Society will also auction off a signed photograph of one of Hogancamp's installations and a copy of Welcome to Marwencol, a limited-edition book illustrating the story of the imaginary village. The proceeds will benefit charities supporting children with disabilities and also a film-editing fellowship honoring the late local filmmaker Karen Schmeer.
Among those receiving BSFC citations are Rebecca Meyers, director of film programs for ArtsEmerson; Saul Levine, programmer for the MassArt Society; and the legendary Cambridge filmmaker and documentary icon, Frederick Wiseman.
On a more somber note, the BSFC will be presenting a statement protesting the six-year prison sentence imposed by an Iranian court on renowned director Jafar Panahi for speaking out against the government.
READ: More Jafar Panahi coverage on Outside the Frame.
Finally, there is the possibility of surprise guests — in a manner of speaking. Two years ago, Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke honored the show with a funny, if enigmatic, video in which they accepted the shared Best Actor award for their roles in Milk and The Wrestler, respectively. Rumor has it that Best Supporting Actress Juliette Lewis, unforgettable in Conviction, might make a similar on-screen appearance Sunday night.
She might be wise to do so. The BSFC awards have proven to be an eerie harbinger of future success. Penn followed up his 2008 BSFC win with an Oscar, and 2007 winner Langella got an Academy Award nomination the following year for Frost/Nixon. The BSFC awards might not be the Oscars, but could the Oscars be paying attention?