Sunday proved a proud moment for Weirton's Rick Witkowski of Studio L and his wife, Deb, as they watched the 85th-annual Academy Awards and heard "Inocente" claim the Oscar for best documentary short subject category.
While the couple always make it a point to watch the awards show that honors Hollywood's best, this year's had a personal element to it in that Rick scored some of the music - the vocals part - for "Inocente," which was one of five films nominated in that category, its challengers being "Kings Point," "Mondays at Racine," "Open Heart" and "Redemption."
"Inocente," according to promotional material, "is an intensely personal and vibrant coming-of-age feature documentary about a young artist's fierce determination to never surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings. At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years."
Witkowski's involvement in the movie was creating the vocal music that represented what Inocente would emotionally have in her head, a project opportunity that unfolded through connections. He was approached about it in December 2011.
That the film would be nominated and that Rick would have this connection to it made watching the Oscars all the more intense. He and his wife typically watch the Academy Awards with some fanfare anyway, accustomed to an at-home celebration that includes dressing up, sipping champagne and filling out ballots to make their picks.
Hearing "Inocente" win generated an enthusiastic response in the Witkowski household.
"The house erupted with cheers, but it was a while before we could fill our glasses and toast because the house phone and cell phones went crazy with congratulations," Rick said, noting that a text came from Albie Hecht, the producer, at the ceremony to share the excitement. I am so proud, and 'Inocente' was so worthy. What an honor to be affiliated with this project - truly a golden moment in my career and life," Rick said.
The award was accepted by executive directors Sean and Andrea Nix Fine of Fine Films and Inocente herself.
Hecht was Rick's connection to the film as the two had collaborated on past projects, including for MTV and Nickelodeon.
Deb, a movie buff bigtime, said she and Rick watched the Oscars in casual attire - often they dress up in grand style for fun - but she did wear a special Oscar statue necklace given to her years ago.
"It hangs right over my heart and took on a new meaning this year," she said.
"We taped the broadcast and watched that portion of it over and over again, and Ricky's heart is still beating fast," she said.