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December 14, 2012

Double the excitement

Films drawing Oscar buzz have local ties

Two nationally acclaimed documentary films traveling the art movie house circuit will open at the Screening Room this weekend in a double billing that promotes both films’ ties to Newburyport.

The two films, which are very different in context, share a commonality in that they’re both garnering the kind of respect from the American film community that could earn them Oscar nods from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But when audiences line up to purchase tickets for the films, it will likely be to catch sight of two familiar faces.

Newburyport native Jenna Cook is one of four young Chinese American women featured in the touching film “Somewhere Between” that depicts the coming of age of women given up for adoption as a result of China’s “one child” policy; and 2007 Newburyport High graduate John Pouliot’s name will be on the marquis for his production and editing work on the film “Open Heart,” which follows the brave journey of eight young Rwandan heart patients who travel to Sudan to get lifesaving treatment at a free heart surgery clinic.

According to Screening Room owner Andrew Mungo, the pair represent a chance for locals to see two important works that stand a good chance of achieving the highest film honors in the industry, with the added benefit of knowing local residents have made their mark on the films.

“My business partner Nancy Langsam was instrumental in finding ‘Somewhere Between,’” Mungo said. “Nancy knew that ‘Somewhere Between’ had a connection to the city and that it was an important film that has a real shot at being noticed nationally and could even be nominated for an Academy Award for a full length documentary.”

“Open Heart” was Mungo’s find, and is one of seven titles on the short list for Oscar contention in the category of Documentary Short Subjects.

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