The photographers were in place, the red-carpet guests were arriving and the cameras were rolling for Chicago's only Oscar party officially sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last Sunday. Oscar Night America, hosted by the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, welcomed a crowd of more than 300 to its sold-out 19th annual event benefiting the center.
Chaired by Ray Samlow and co-chaired by David Hundley and Eliot Ephraim, with assists from Kristin Anderson, Michelle Cucchiaro, Alexis Nido-Russo, Ellen Sandor and Chaga Walton, the evening included the 84th Academy Awards broadcast in two of the center's theaters. Winners weren't only on screen. The Film Center had its own look-alike awards ceremony presented by host Amanda Puck during commercial breaks. A year's membership was offered to the winners.
The evening also included a buffet inspired by some of the nominated films. Donated by MJ Catering, dishes included Hawaiian salmon inspired by"The Descendants"and Southern-style potato gratin inspired by"The Help."
"There's no finer place than the Siskel Film Center to see movies, learn about movies, talk about movies and celebrate movies. Tonight was a night to gather and honor those missions," said Ephraim.
Oscar-night parties last year raised more than $3.5 million in 51 cites. Since its inception in 1994, the program has generated nearly $27 million in funding for a wide range of charities. Oscar Night America in Chicago is one of 49 official parties that were held across the country.
Freelance writer Candace Jordan is involved with many local organizations, including some whose events she covers.
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