Not a lot of New Mexicans get the opportunity to attend the Red Carpet Soiree to End All Red Carpet Soirees—otherwise known as the Academy Awards. Most of us simply watch from the decidedly unglamorous comfort of our living room couch. But this year, the city of Albuquerque is teaming up with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to bring us the closest thing to being there. Oscar Night America is a series of officially sanctioned Academy Awards parties held in 49 cities across the United States. The events are done in conjunction with the Academy’s philanthropic arm, allowing proceeds to go to various charities around the U.S. Albuquerque is one of the elite few hosting one of these Oscar Night parties. The event will take place this Sunday evening as a benefit for Friends for the Public Library and the historic KiMo Theatre.
“What we’re excited about,” says KiMo Theatre manager Larry Parker, “is the opportunity to come and watch the Oscars in a grand old movie palace as old as the Oscars itself.” Albuquerque’s KiMo was built in 1927—the very first year AMPAS awarded “Most Outstanding Production” to William Wellman’s silent film Wings. In fact, since a statuette for wasn’t actually given out until the Academy’s first official ceremony in 1929, the KiMo predates the Oscars as we know them.
So what can attendees expect if they show up at the KiMo’s Oscar Night America party? For starters, they’re invited to a preliminary double feature of Oscar-nominated films on Saturday, Feb. 25. The Best Live-Action Short Film nominees and the Best Animated Short Film nominees for 2012 will be screened at noon and 2:30 p.m., respectively, at the KiMo. This gives viewers the opportunity to see 10 Oscar-nominated films at once. Plus, it’s free to all Oscar Night America ticket-holders.
On Sunday, the day of the Oscars, parking is complimentary in the garage at Copper and Fifth Street, directly behind the KiMo. The red carpet unfurls at 5:30 p.m. sharp. The Oscar ceremony itself doesn’t start until 6:30 p.m.—that gives attendees plenty of time to mingle. In the lobby, there will be free hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Slate Street Café and a full cash bar. Albuquerque’s own Gypsy jazz ensemble Le Chat Lunatique will serenade guests in the mezzanine. Since this is a sanctioned Oscar event, guests will get their hands on the official Academy Award programs—the very same ones being handed out in Hollywood. Each one is packed with info about the night’s many nominees. In addition to the program, ticket-holders will go home with a swag bag that Parker promises will be full of “all sorts of fun goodies” including film memorabilia, beauty products and more.
Once the show starts, the live Oscar simulcast will screen in HD on the KiMo’s brand-spanking new 33-foot-wide silver screen. This is, in fact, the only event so far to use all of KiMo’s upgraded film equipment, including a state-of-the art digital projector, Dolby surround sound stereo and the first cinema-quality, light-reflective screen installed in the KiMo since the ’70s. Parker sees the evening as an opportunity “to embrace modern technology as well as movie history.” ... And to show off all the glorious renovations the city has been doing on the historic building.
During the course of the evening’s telecast, a quartet of hosts will be on hand to entertain the live audience. KOAT-7 anchor Royale Dá, Albuquerque the Magazine Editor-in-Chief Dan Mayfield, KOAT-7 reporter Chris Ramirez and, yours truly, Alibi Film Editor Devin D. O’Leary will take the stage throughout the night to help hand out movie-related merchandise giveaways courtesy of Louie’s Rock-N-Reels and Regal Entertainment Group. The giveaways will culminate in the evening’s grand prize. Upon entering, guests will be given a ballot featuring the 2012 Oscar categories. The person who gets the most Oscar picks correct will win a tour for two of the “Breaking Bad” set led by Albuquerque Film Office Director Ann Lerner.
If all goes well, New Mexico’s very first Oscar-endorsed party could become a must-not-miss event for movie lovers for years to come. Although it remains to be seen how much partying and how much working the KiMo’s head honcho will manage to do at this year’s inaugural outing. “It is a red carpet and black tie event,” promises Parker. “Whether I wear a tuxedo or not, I don’t know.”