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Thain Brandybuck sends in this report from the Oscar celebrations in Wellington:
The Oscar festivities saw people celebrating all over the world. And the real party begun even earlier with a gathering of good friends in Wellington, New Zealand. Unaware that movie history would be made on Monday, our group Cormacolindor met for the weekend. Here, back in the capital of the Kiwi version of Middle-Earth, we participated as stunt fighters at the Cuba Street Carnival parade. Fighting in full armour, including the weight of real chain-mail, swords and shields, was a challenge. We also had to brave heavy rain that stopped literally only minutes before the parade begun. And I am not sure if it helped when one of our group members recalled his experience from the filming of Helms Deep.. anyway, we came, fought, survived (well, most of us) and after 90 minutes of cheering, music and flash lights we successfully finished another public display. And after we had secured hundreds of pounds of armour and weaponry, we could finally hit town!
Wellington looked at its best, the sun kept shining and with hundreds of performers and spectators the street festival was well attended. Even more important, there were still heaps of Lord of the Rings-related things to discover.
We Cormas kept strolling around for hours, and there was so much to see! Buskers from all over the world performed, there was live music everywhere.. and all this time spent in the company of fellow Tolkienists! Oh, did I forgot to mention that we were all clad in authentic medieval/Middle-Earthish garb?
We surely drew some attention to us, especially when we improvised our favourite book and movie scenes of Lord of the Rings. Thanks to my Hobbit costume, I was put into the bucket fountain. Unnecessary to mention that my cloak about doubled its weight. Though who else can say they bathed in, well, Elijah Wood´s .. ah, nevermind. Anyway, the looks I got were nothing compared to those when another group member posed as a Nazgûl. I think we were all a little bit creeped out by how authentic it looked.
The day lights faded, we allowed ourselves a few drinks while watching the rugby and then retired into an exceptional good Turkish restaurant.
The next day was Academy Award day. The Day. The sun was shining, probably because we didn´t have to wear armour, and the wind reminded us that we were in the windiest capital of the world. Most of us had to work but I escaped the treadmill and was thus free to live the moment. And I was not alone. I even had to line up to take pictures for the Embassy Theater, a new top sightseeing attraction. A seemingly touched Lord of the Rings-fan was forced to chase his cap down Courtenay Place, which was probably a remarkable experience in itself. As my evening garb was starting to look like a sailor´s work wear, I opted for going into the Embassy. The Theater was nicely decorated with huge golden Oscar statues, and of course posters and banners.
More and more people started arriving, most of them in formal dress. Only five people/creatures were in costume: three Hobbits, a Nazgûl and a famous director. I was relived at not having put on my full gala armour! People walked around, socialising in the foyer or watching L.A. footage inside. The Embassy had arranged live coverage of the Academy Awards, and I was one of those glued to the screen. Looking back, the hours passed far too quickly! Starting with the Red Carpet ceremony, and the Countdown, the atmosphere built up. Every time Keisha or one of the Lord of the Rings- cast and crew was seen, the crowd cheered and clapped madly.
And then the Official Ceremony begun. We surely enjoyed the Lord of the Rings-spoofs, and even better straight afterwards the Oscars started coming home! The Kiwi audience got more and more excited.
When I thought I wouldn´t mind, I was wrong. As the hour drew closer, I became more and more excited. By now I was pacing around the theater with my newly found friend Tony, who happens to look remarkably similar to Peter Jackson. Could we Kiwis secure our position on Top of the World?
And then (finally) Steven Spielberg stepped on stage, opened the envelope and the rest is history. The audience begun screaming and whistling. Nearly everyone was on her or his feet by now even the Prime minister of New Zealand who was also one of the invited party members. I actually cannot clearly remember the next half an hour but national television showed us dancing in the aisles. With huge Hobbit smiles. And fairly roundish eyes.
The audience slowly moved out to the foyer where our celebration began.. there were VIPs everywhere, and cameras and.. well, fellow Tolkienists were difficult to identify. This was Peter Jackson´s hour of triumph and anyway, I had given in to that already. I was introduced to a few people, surprisingly many of them American, and finally escaped to talk to one of the Hobbit extras.
With the noise slowly dying down, we finished giving TV and radio interviews and finally fled to the waterfront. What better way to finish this day then congratulating the magic crew itself?
Standing in front of the Chicago was a funny feeling: this is where the Red Carpet After Party in December 2003 was held. All of the outer decoration was removed by now, of course. But the bar itself was fully decorated, and loud music and cheering could be heard everywhere. This is where the crew of WETA Workshop and WETA Digital was still celebrating! And even after 6 hours of partying, people kept coming. We were mistaken for guests and treated quite nicely. We also managed to congratulate a few people, among them the armoursmith, the weapon maker and others. There were so many happy faces! Unfortunately, we were discovered and left with what was left of our dignity..
.. only to see footage of our arrival at the WETA party on late night news. Followed by pictures of The One Party in L.A. And so it was shown to the world that this was our day, too. We Ringers are everywhere!