LOS ANGELES — Lucy Walker is more worried about gussying up for the 83rd annual Academy Awards than worrying about whether Banksy will make his mark on Sunday's ceremony. The director of the transformative garbage dump chronicle "Waste Land" is among the nominees facing the infamously elusive street artist for the documentary feature Oscar.
"I'm a female documentary filmmaker," Walker said Saturday at a posh HBO reception honoring this year's documentary nominees at the Four Seasons hotel. "Nothing can scare me as much as standing on a red carpet next to movie stars."
Other nominees up against Walker's "Waste Land" and Banksy's is-it-real-or-not "Exit Through the Gift Shop" include the Afghanistan war account "Restrepo" by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger and the financial meltdown tale "Inside Job" by Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs. Partygoers were buzzing that Oprah Winfrey would be presenting their awards.
"What's happening this year with documentary films is as exciting as what's happening with narrative films," said nominee Josh Fox, the director of environmental expose "Gasland," which a natural gas industry group sought to disqualify from awards consideration. "If there's controversy, whether that's the gas industry, Banksy or Oprah, it's all good."
Banksy, the mysterious graffiti star who intentionally keeps his identity a secret, apparently hasn't shown up to any of the week's events, including a Wednesday panel of the documentary filmmaker nominees at the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters and the Independent Spirit Awards, where "Exit Through the Gift Shop" won the documentary award Saturday.
Thierry Guetta, the eccentric Frenchman and street-art fan who appears in Banksy's film, accepted the trophy on his behalf. He said backstage that he didn't know where the elusive director was or whether he would be attending Sunday's ceremony. Jaimie D'Cruz, the film's producer, offered the same teasing statement when he appeared at Wednesday's panel.
Several new pieces apparently erected by Banksy began appearing around Los Angeles last week, though no new handiwork has been posted to his web site since earlier this week when two murals by Banksy were spotted in East Los Angeles and a tank tagged with the phrase "It looks a bit like an elephant" was glimpsed off the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica.
Other attendees at Saturday's documentary soiree included several short documentary contenders. Among them were "Poster Girl" star Robynn Murray with filmmakers Sara Nesson and Mitchell W. Block; and "Killing in the Name" director Jed Rothstein with Ashraf Daas, the film's subject who lost over a dozen family members in a 2005 terrorist attack in Jordan.