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Clarification to This Article
A previous version of this article misidentified Andrea Nix Fine as the film's editor. Andrea Nix Fine is the film's director, and Jeff Consiglio is the editor.

Savoring the Oscar Limelight

Chevy Chase Couple Nominated for Documentary

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Sean Fine spent seven weeks in Uganda to film "War/Dance," a documentary about children in a refugee camp preparing for a dance competition. He came down with malaria while there.
Sean Fine spent seven weeks in Uganda to film "War/Dance," a documentary about children in a refugee camp preparing for a dance competition. He came down with malaria while there. (Thinkfilm)
Sean and Andrea Nix Fine discuss their Oscar-nominated film at their Chevy Chase home.
Sean and Andrea Nix Fine discuss their Oscar-nominated film at their Chevy Chase home. (By Jonathan Ernst For The Washington Post)
(M. Spencer Green - AP)
(Thinkfilm)
Reviewers have praised the beauty of "War/Dance," above. Right, a 1988 photo of Redskins photographer Nate Fine, who was given a Super Bowl ring that his grandson will wear to the Academy Awards, and his son Paul. Paul Fine is Sean's father and also makes documentaries.
Reviewers have praised the beauty of "War/Dance," above. Right, a 1988 photo of Redskins photographer Nate Fine, who was given a Super Bowl ring that his grandson will wear to the Academy Awards, and his son Paul. Paul Fine is Sean's father and also makes documentaries. (Family Photo)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 24, 2008; Page A01

The journey to tonight's Academy Awards -- perhaps to make that giddy walk up the stage to collect an Oscar -- began for one Washington family two generations ago on the Redskins playing field.

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Sean Fine, the grandson of a Redskins photographer and the son of a documentary producer, and his wife, Andrea Nix Fine, are nominees at the awards show for "War/Dance," a documentary they wrote, directed and edited in their Chevy Chase basement. The film tells the story of a group of Ugandan refugee schoolchildren who are escaping the ravages of civil war by training for a dance competition.

In Washington, a hometown crowd and a vibrant documentary community will be cheering for them, knowing that an Oscar win could elevate the District's position in the film world as a place where global issues and politics are articulated through art.

In Los Angeles, the Fines are caught up in the hectic whirl of a nominee preparing for a ceremony broadcast in almost 200 countries. Ensconced at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel this weekend, the Fine family went to the pool, debated whether to write thank-you speeches (they didn't, not yet), organized a party for their film crew, shopped for an important eleventh-hour purchase -- shoes to match Andrea's dress -- and went to a dinner hosted by fellow nominee Michael Moore.

Moore offered the Fines some acceptance-speech advice, should their documentary beat his "Sicko": "Be yourself and don't say anything bad about Bush."

Come Sunday night, they will be at the Kodak Theatre with Andrea wearing jewels on loan from Tiny Jewel Box, a Connecticut Avenue shop, and Sean a tuxedo from a Washington department store, plus a special item from the man who paved their path to the red carpet: a Super Bowl ring awarded to Sean's grandfather.

Nate Fine was a Redskins photographer who taught his son and grandson the power of film.

The Fine family's cinematic dynasty began in the 1930s when Nate was just a boy being treated for tuberculosis in an iron lung at a Washington hospital. Someone in the hospital gave him a camera to help pass the time, setting off his love affair with photography.

The striking pictures that Nate took of nurses and doctors in the tuberculosis ward proved to himself that he had an eye for photography.

He began working for the Washington Times-Herald and the Redskins as a photographer in 1937. He eventually dropped the newspaper job to become a football cameraman who pioneered the tradition of using film footage for training in the locker room. Former head coach George Allen called him the "Cecil B. DeMille of the National Football League."

A month before Nate Fine died in 1988, the team dedicated its Super Bowl win against the Broncos to him. He had been with them for every game but one since the team came to Washington. (He missed a 1944 exhibition game against the Chicago Bears, for his honeymoon.)

Nate and Holly Fine's son often tagged along to games. One day, when Paul Fine was about 16, his father took him onto the field and let him shoot some photos.


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