Daniel Junge on his Oscar nomination, Saving Face, and the Colorado film industry
What is Christian Ultimate Fighting?
[Laughs] Well, you'll have to wait and see the film. It's called Fight Church, so that kind of sums it up. My filmmaking partner Davis and I are making a film in Jamaica on a school for disadvantaged boys that gives birth to reggae called Alpha Boys, and I am currently in negotiations with Landscape Films and a couple of major broadcasters for two big commercial documentaries for my first theatrical-release documentaries on subjects I'll announce soon. They're gonna be great.
What are you planning to do in L.A. around the Oscars?
Well, I'm gonna stay at the Four Seasons and try to get used to that lifestyle [laughs] and live the lifestyle to which I would like to become accustomed. How about that? I'm gonna bask in all the revelry that is the Oscars. We documentary filmmakers so rarely get to feel this sense of glamor and importance. I'm gonna bask in that and over my co-director, she's the first Pakistani director nominated, so I'm gonna enjoy her enjoying it, too.
Do you have any cool stories from the last time you were there?
Well, I will say that the Academy Luncheon is pretty special. You know, you don't sit with your group, they assign you seating, and when I got to my table and saw my name placard, I looked at the seat next to me and it said Morgan Freeman. So I got to sit and have lunch next to Morgan Freeman. This year at the Academy Luncheon I got to talk with George Clooney, with Brad Pitt and Glenn Close. It's such a collegial atmosphere at the luncheon; it has much less of the hype of the actual event and it's only the nominees. So the two years I've gone, that's really been the highlight for me.
What's your pick for Best Picture?
My personal favorite is The Descendants -- I love Alexander Payne and I saw that film here at the Denver Film Festival and absolutely loved it. But I guess word on the street is that The Artist is the front runner. In documentary, I'd love to see Paradise Lost win, because Joe Berlinger, who I've gotten to know over the last few years, I really look up to his work and he's one of the reasons I got into documentary filmmaking. So to be nominated alongside him has been fantastic.
Did you write an acceptance speech?
You really have to. They say spontaneity is great, but be prepared. The Academy, they are pretty clear that they want you to put effort into your speech and not just wing it. So yeah, I have put time into it -- but you don't want to be presumptuous and jinx yourself.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you or the film?
Well, I think it's worth noting that with our last film that was nominated, there are now three documentaries in the last two years that are Colorado-born products. And of course, the precedent was set by my mentor, Donna Dewey, who won the Oscar twelve years ago from here in Colorado. So I think now with three in the last two years, it just indicates that there's such a great filmmaking community developing here in Colorado and that with the changes in the industry and changes in technology you can make films, especially documentaries, anywhere in the world, anywhere you choose to live. And I choose to live in Colorado. I just think it's exciting to see the maturation of the film industry here in Colorado.
Watch the Oscars on Sunday to root for Junge, and catch Saving Face at 7 p.m. March 7 at the Denver Film Center Colfax as part of the Women + Film Voices Film Festival and March 8 on HBO.