Arts and Entertainment

Mercer Islander’s film ‘Winter’s Bone’ up for best picture Oscar

Mercer Island High School class of 1987 graduate Anne Rosellini, right, is shown here with Alix Madigan-York.  - Contributed Photo
Mercer Island High School class of 1987 graduate Anne Rosellini, right, is shown here with Alix Madigan-York.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Anne Rosellini, a 1987 graduate of Mercer Island High School, is “one-third elated, one-third horrified and one-third nervous” about being nominated for two Academy Awards. Rosellini and her co-producer, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, are nominated in the Best Picture category for their film, “Winter’s Bone.” Rosellini and Debra Granik, who is the film’s director, are nominated for best adapted screenplay.

The nominee is a member of the well-known Rosellini family of Washington state. Former Washington state governor Albert Rosellini is a first cousin of the filmmaker’s grandfather.

“It’s a pretty rarefied occasion,” Rosellini said of the Oscars.

Two of the movie’s stars, Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes, are nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor for their roles in the independent film.

A self-proclaimed child of the television generation, by high school she was taking the bus into Seattle to watch independent films at The Egyptian Theater on Capitol Hill.

After graduating from MIHS, Rosellini attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree.

Returning to the Seattle area after college, Rosellini started the 1 Reel Film Festival at Bumbershoot in 1996.

“I was waitressing and running my own festival,” she said from her present home in Brooklyn, New York. She met Granik, who was already making films, at 1 Reel.

Rosellini later became the programmer for SIFF (the Seattle International Film Festival), then seven years later she was hired by Seattle-based Atom Films working in acquisitions. In 2001, Rosellini was laid off from Atom Films, so she decided to move to New York, where she knew several filmmakers.

“Running a festival is producing,” she said. “So, it (producing films) was sort of an organic transition.”

She and Granik worked on the 2004 film “Down to the Bone,” which won critical acclaim. They came upon “Winter’s Bone” when their agent sent them the novel by Daniel Woodrell, which they adapted for the screen. The word ‘bone’ in both films was a coincidence.

“We loved it,” Rosellini said of the book. “We were very intrigued with the setting in the Ozarks, where neither of us had ever been,” Rosellini said. “We loved Ree (Lawrence’s character). There are a lot of luscious characters.”

The fictional story takes a gritty look at poverty and a code of silence among kin. Ree, a teenager, is the caregiver for her mentally ill mother, and two younger siblings. Their father, Jessup, who is a methamphetamine cook and dealer, has been in jail, but is out on bail and has put up their home for collateral on his bond. Ree must find her father so she and her family aren’t left to “live like dogs.”

Everywhere young Ree goes for help, the message is the same: “Stay out of it.” She refuses to listen, even after she is told that her father is probably dead. She pushes on, putting her own life in danger, for the sake of her family until the truth, or enough of it, is revealed.

Rosellini will have a busy weekend Feb. 26 and 27. The Independent Spirit Awards are Feb. 26 in Santa Monica, with the Oscars the next night in Hollywood.

“The Independent Spirit Awards, those are my colleagues,” she said. “It’s a huge, huge honor to be recognized among my peers.”

So, has she ever been to the Academy Awards?

“Oh God, no! I live a very humble worker’s life. I don’t live a glamorous life,” she said.

In fact, Rosellini has a 1-year-old son, who she said she gave birth to at the same time as the movie.

Right now she is reading several scripts looking for just the right project.

“It took three years to make ‘Winter’s Bone,’” she said. “We (she and Granik) are going to take our time.”

So, who would she like to meet among all the A-listers at the Academy Awards?

“I admit, I’m a very big Jeff Bridges fan, so we’ll see,” she said.

And, as they say on the red carpet, “Who (what designer) will she be wearing?”

“I will be wearing clothes, I can assure you. I’ll do everyone proud. I will.”

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