John Hickenlooper celebrates Colorado's Oscar, Grammy wins

Categories: Art

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Years before he won an Academy Award, filmmaker Daniel Junge was a barback at the Wynkoop Brewing Company -- and yesterday his former bosshosted a reception to celebrate not just Junge's recent Oscar win for best short documentary, Saving Face, but also Ryan Tedder's Grammy -- a real double whammy for Colorado's cultural scene.

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The Denver team behind Saving Face backstage at the Oscars; Daniel Junge is second from left.
"Great states have great art," pronounced the governor. "And really talented people who believe in your community, but operate at a world-class level...it's a great gift."

"I was the worst bartender in the history of beer," said Junge in thanking the governor for his introduction...and early employment. (He noted that "Academy Award-winning" doesn't yet roll off his tongue, kind of like "Governor Hickenlooper.") But Junge was already a talented filmmaker, and lucky enough to work with Donna Dewey, who won an Academy Award for her 1997 documentary A Story of Healing and produced Junge's first film, Chiefs (she also made Hickenlooper's first TV ad).

Today, Colorado can claim three Academy Award winners, all for documentaries: Dewey, Boulder-based Louie Psihoyo, who won in 2010 for The Cove, a doc about an environmental crisis at a Japanese fishing village, and Saving Face.

When Junge started out, Colorado had a "very vibrant film industry," he recalled, although for years it was far from that. Today it's coming back, thanks to the efforts of Donald Zuckerman, head of the state film commission, and all the filmmakers who chose to make Colorado their home -- while making films about places around the globe, including Pakistan, the setting for Saving Face. (Read producer Allison Greenberg's account of the Oscars here.)

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Ryan Tedder
Hickenlooper's history with Tedder doesn't go back nearly as far as his experience with Junge. He first heard about the musician from Isaac Slade of The Fray, when Tedder, who spent a lot of time visiting Colorado as a kid, had moved here full time a few years ago, building a world-class recording studio and also his own band, One Republic. Today, Hickenlooper noted, Tedder's resume includes 130 million records sold, as well as work with dozens of luminaries, including Adele -- and his contributions on her break-through album 21 earned him the Grammy.

"I dreamed about living here for as long as I can remember," Tedder told the gathering. He did live here for a while after high school, and his first job was not at the Wynkoop but Joe's Crab Shack in Colorado Springs, which was closed for health violations. After that he lived in Los Angeles, Manhattan and Nashville, but Tedder always wanted to come back to Colorado. And now he's responsible for bringing many others here, musicians who come to work in his studio, who "moved mountains to work here," and then sometimes stayed for a few days to visit those mountains. "I'm not going to sit and drop names," Tedder said.

At which point Hickenlooper interrupted: "That's my job."

And the governor had two more shout-outs before the evening was done: to Carbondale and Lafayette, two Colorado communities that will be honored tomorrow at the meeting of Colorado Creative Industries (formerly the Colorado Council on the Arts) in Breckenridge.

But the real capper on the celebration came from Tedder, who captured the attitude of those who are making art -- and winning awards for it -- here in Colorado: He gave any doubters around the rest of the world a double dose of the finger.

Read about the efforts to resurrect Colorado's film industry in Melanie Asmar's recent cover story, "The Reel West."
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