The Academy Awards were especially exciting for all who had a hand in creating the night’s big winner, Everything Everywhere All at Once—including Jon Read ’09, co-producer of the newly crowned Best Picture. Everything Everywhere All at Once also earned Oscars in the categories of Best Actress (Michelle Yeoh), Best Supporting Actor (Ke Huy Quan), Best Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis), Best Director (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), Best Original Screenplay (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), and Best Film Editing (Paul Rogers).
Two other alum-made films were nominated for awards that night: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, which was produced by Caroline Kaplan ’87 and included the voice of Jessi Klein ’97, nominated for Best Animated Feature Film; and The Martha Mitchell Effect, produced by Judith Mizrachy ’95, nominated for Best Documentary Short Film.
Netflix executive Sasha Bühler ’89 saw All Quiet on the Western Front, which she had greenlit, take home the Oscar for Best International Feature Film, among other awards. Congrats to all!
Jonah Scott Mendelsohn ’93 first encountered the work of National Book Award–winning memoirist and poet Paul Monette in Professor Patricia Wallace’s AIDS in Literature class at Vassar. “As a 19-year-old, coming out during the peak of the AIDS epidemic, this class provided me with a personal anchor when I was overwhelmed, and also justified the importance of majoring in English and the humanities/liberal arts as a way of working toward justice in the world,” Mendelsohn recalls. Even then, he says, his first reaction to Monette’s AIDS poetry was, “This needs to be performed.”
Now an actor and a writer, Mendelsohn made that spark of an idea a reality this past December. He performed his solo play Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies—adapted from the poetry Paul Monette wrote after the death of his partner, Roger Horwitz—at The Tank NYC in honor of World AIDS Day. Mendelsohn had begun work on this piece in January 2020; when the COVID-19 pandemic hit just two months later, “poetry took on the startling resonance of prophecy,” he says. “I have found Monette an incredible companion during COVID, and his words a tremendous source of compassion and insight during these challenging, polarized times.” Says Mendelsohn, “The long-term goal is to perform the piece every year for World AIDS Day in December as a living memorial—not only to those lost, but also to those who survived and fought for their own rights and the rights of others.”
Russia’s war on Ukraine hasn’t stopped, and therefore neither can Mirena Bayeva ’06. Jumping in to help animal shelters in her native country with desperately needed funds and supplies—including generators to counteract frequent blackouts—the Ukrainian citizen now living in Massachusetts was recognized in October with a prestigious Animal Action Award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Legendary conservationist Jane Goodall presented the award, which celebrates “everyday heroes in animal welfare and conservation,” to Bayeva at the House of Lords in London. “The situation in Ukraine is tragic for people and animals,” noted James Sawyer, UK Director of IFAW. “But despite the terror, Mirena found a way to overcome the feeling of helplessness and do something extremely positive.” —Articles by Kimberly Schaye