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On February 26, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy made history by winning the Best Documentary (short) award for Saving Face – becoming the first Pakistani to win an Oscar. Perfect timing, given that International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8.

Among a lot of fanfare, Obaid-Chinoy held up her Oscar at the Hollywood and Highland Center (formerly known as the Kodak Theatre) which has been the home of the Oscars for the last decade; 113 metres wide and 60 metres deep, it is one of the largest theatres in the US with a seating capacity of 3,332 people.

A short walk from Hollywood Boulevard, the theatre begins at the two-storey staircase called the ‘Awards Walk’, where celebrities strut and pose before entering. Bordered on both sides by glass plaques commemorating every Best Picture winner since 1927, the stairway continues into a five-level lobby with wall panels made of a glass bead material aptly called Silver Screen. This is where attendees gather before proceeding to the auditorium.

The auditorium has an enclosed feel to it and is capped in the shape of a ‘tiara’ inspired by the floor pattern of Michelangelo’s Campidoglio. This shape extends all the way down to the walls of the auditorium and the main stage, highlighting the dramatic proscenium (the setting where the audience faces the stage) seen during the awards show.

With cherry wood finishes, chairs with deep plum velvet upholstery, and the critical ‘VIP’ feel that event organisers want everyone to experience, the theatre, in the words of a former member of the Academy, “feels like a house with 3,000 seats wrapping around and hugging you.”

– Shayan Shakeel

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 4, 2012.

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