When you stay on the grounds at the Alegria Inn, you get breakfast in the charming dining area that looks across the garden to the beach. Usually in B&Bs, people chat a bit at breakfast, even if they don’t know each other, and my stay was no exception. On Wednesday morning I talked briefly to the couple who was checking out, and gave them suggestions for places to visit in Healdsburg. There was another couple staying; two young men. One had a shaven head and an accent I couldn’t place, although I thought it might be Swedish. His partner was Asian. They were quiet, and talked mostly about movies. We exchanged pleasantries and talked about how happy we were that it was raining.
On Friday, Ellen told me that they had stayed for six days, and were staying one more night before heading to the city. It had been a working vacation for them, she said, because they had been doing phone interviews during the visit. “He’s a film director,” she said. “He made a documentary about Indonesia. I probably shouldn’t say anything, but he’s nominated for an Academy Award.”
“He ” is Joshua Oppenheimer and the movie is The Act of Killing. A few minutes later, the two of them came in for breakfast. I was trying to think of a clever way to ask about their movie without blowing Ellen’s cover in some way, but Joshua made it easy. Ellen and I had been talking about the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, and Joshua asked me if I were a writer. We talked a little bit about the conference (his father has started writing and he wondered if this would be a good experience). That gave me the opening to ask about what he did, act interested when he said he was a film-maker, and say innocently, “Anything I might be able to see on Netflix?”
So he told me about the movie. He was very humble. He didn’t mention the Academy nod. He gave me a brief explanation, but Wikipedia has a good description. Ellen said one of her innkeepers saw it and said it was good, but difficult to watch.
Joshua is an American but he’s lived in Denmark for the past several years (hence the accent). I know the Oscars show doesn’t televise Best Documentary, but I hope Joshua and his partner get to dress up, hang with their friends and sip champagne, and attend the ceremony. And I hope they win.