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February 22, 2013

And the Oscar goes to...

Sunday is the 85th Academy Awards, and for at least one of us here at The Damien Center, that means movie-watching season is in full swing. The quest to see all nine Best Picture nominees before the red carpet gets rolled out is an annual tradition I share with a few friends, but luckily, the task is made easier by AMC's Best Picture Showcase. All nine films, two Saturdays, and lots of well-timed bathroom breaks.

Last Saturday kicked off with Amour, Les Misérables, Argo, and Django Unchained—not the most upbeat of movie marathons. After a long and emotional journey through love and death in Amour, we then took on the fate of France's poorest in Les Mis, the intense evacuation of six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis in Argo, and finally, Jamie Foxx's portrayal of a freed slave turned bounty hunter in the quintessentially Tarantino Django. The coming weekend will feature the remaining five Best Picture nominees: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, and Lincoln.

And on Sunday, celebrities will get big, fancy awards. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing—the list goes on and on. But two weeks ago, quietly, away from the clamor of the Best Picture nominees and the glitz of the red carpet, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented its annual Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards. These awards, folks, are the really incredible ones. The recipients are doing things that revolutionize the way movies are made, like making computer-generated creatures more realistic and improving workflow with software that can take on entirely new processes. You can read about the winners and be amazed here.

And what does this have to do with The Damien Center? We got to thinking—who's working behind the scenes here? Who are background technicians, the people who make things tick and innovate and move the field forward? Like the Scientific and Technical Achievement Award winners, they've got ideas and stories worth telling about, even if they don't get the Hollywood-ified treatment the stars do. So we're going to change that. We want you to know more about what's going on here at The Damien Center, so we're going to start featuring stories from our staff members. What do they do, why do they do it, who do they serve? What does a day in their shoes look like? Our care coordinators, HIV/STD testers, food pantry staff, housing managers, counselors, and many, many more are the real award winners around here. In the coming months, look for stories from these folks and others. You'll be amazed at the incredible things happening behind the scenes.