British Team Behind 'Hell And Back Again' Ready For Oscar Night After Best Documentary Nomination
"I got very, very drunk, so yes, I did sleep."
British film producer Mike Lerner is still coming down to earth after receiving news that his documentary Hell and Back Again has been included in this year's Oscar nominations for Best Documentary.
Amid all the fuss about Asif Kapadia's film Senna being omitted from the longlist, Hell and Back Again has instead sneaked across the line and will be going for a gold statuette on 26th February in Los Angeles.
"We were in the office yesterday, they were streaming the results online, but they didn't announce all of them, so we had to scramble around to find the names, and there we were," reports Lerner proudly.
"One fantasises about these moments. You're on the shortlist for six long weeks, daring to hope, and then all that waiting is over."
Lerner, a veteran TV and film producer of 25 years standing, is sounding suitably chuffed, but he shouldn't be too surprised. The film made by his Roast Beef company, funded by the BritDoc Foundation and Independent Production, has already been the triumph of the Sundance Film Festival after being completed early last year.
It's the fourth film about Afghanistan the team have made, and follows the story of one US marine unit fighting in the desert, before following them home to North Carolina.
Their charismatic, well-decorated leader Nathan is horribly injured, and film-maker Danfung Dennis, in his directing debut, chronicles his battle with recovery in discomforting intimacy.
"We didn't know what we were going to find," explains Lerner. "I don't mean to be at all glib about Nathan's horrible injury, but it made for a different story, so there was a degree of serendipity as with all good documentaries."
Lerner, now waiting for his Oscar ceremony instructions from the film's US distribution team, is quick to credit director Dennis for the quality of the film:
"He's a photographer, who'd never even thought of making a film before. But purely through technical advances, because it's become possible to make a film on a stills camera, he thought he'd try, and now he's off to the Oscars. But he's a cool customer, he'll cope."
The Oscars are taking place on Sunday 26th February. Watch the trailer for Hell and Back Again below: