Director Frank Stiefel calls himself 'extraordinarily lucky and happy 70‑year‑old'
Director Frank Stiefel is crediting the subject of his film Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, for his Oscar Sunday night for Documentary Short Subject.
He saluted his wife and his filmmaking team, and gave a shoutout to artist Mindy Alper, whose struggles and artistic accomplishments he documented in the 40-minute long film.
"Mindy, I'm really proud of this... but I always knew that the only reason people would care about [the film] is because we all care about you," he said from the stage. "Thank you."
I'm not a documentarian. This is my second film.
Alper was in the upper balcony of the Dolby Theatre to hear his tribute and she walked the red carpet with Stiefel before the ceremony started. In the film she speaks candidly about a lifetime of dealing with intense anxiety and depression, borne with a gentleness that clearly endeared her to critics, viewers and Oscar voters.
Backstage Stiefel was asked a question by a reporter who referred to him as a "documentarian." He did not lay claim to the title, despite his Oscar win.
"I'm not a documentarian. This is my second film," he responded. "So as a life experience, to make your first film at the age of 63, and to be given an Academy Award at the age of 70 is ‑‑ it doesn't qualify me as being a documentarian. It qualifies me as being an extraordinarily lucky and happy 70‑year‑old."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.