Berkshire filmmaker earns Academy Award nomination for documentary


SOUTH EGREMONT -- Cynthia Wade received her second Academy Award nomination for the emotional documentary "Mondays at Racine" early Thursday, but the morning leading up to the big announcement could easily have played like a slapstick comedy.

The South Egremont filmmaker's house lost power due to high winds. The sun wasn't out yet, so she "knocked around her house" and made her daughters peanut butter sandwiches by candlelight.

She had no phone or TV to see the announcement herself, so a friend from Los Angeles sent a text message that simply read "Yes" -- "Mondays at Racine" was one of five short-subject documentary nominees for the 85th Academy Awards.

"I'm probably the only nominee that had that experience," Wade said.

"Mondays at Racine" is a 39-minute documentary film about a Long Island salon that, every third Monday of the month, closes its doors to the public so that women who have lost their hair through chemotherapy can enjoy free beauty services. Filming took place from March 2010 through October 2011.

"This acknowledgment from the Academy shows the level of work she produces," said Diane Pearlman, the executive director of the Berkshire Film and Media Commission. "It also speaks to the quality of talent that we have in the Berkshires."

The Oscar nomination follows the Primetime Emmy-winning "Growing Hope Against Hunger," a "Sesame Street" special that included Wade's documentary segments.

In 2008, Wade took home the Oscar for her other documentary short, "Freeheld." Her 2010 entry, "Born Sweet," was a semifinalist.

"It was pretty overwhelming the first time I was nominated," Wade said "I feel like since I've gone through it once before, it's going to be more enjoyable this time, even if I don't win."

Wade was spurred to do a documentary about hair loss after reading an op-ed piece in The New York Times. Then she approached sisters Rachel DeMolfetto and Cynthia Sansone, the owners of Racine.

"She allowed the women to spill their guts and be who they were," DeMolfetto said. "She captured those intimate moments."

She said that she's seen the documentary several times, and each time she catches something new.

"The award has already been given to Cynthia and me because of the experience," DeMolfetto said.

One Racine client on those special Mondays is Linda Hart, who, since 1994, has been battling breast cancer that's affected several parts of her body, including her vocal cords. Her story is featured in "Mondays at Racine."

"Most of the time I had no wig on, and no make-up on," Hart said with a raspy voice. "You saw the real deal of what cancer can do to a person."

During filming, Hart's husband, Warren Hart, moved out, but Wade continued to film her story. The Harts are now back together.

"Mondays at Racine" already won awards in Boston and Indianapolis, Ind., while on the film festival circuit last year before airing on HBO. It sold out both times it showed at the 2012 Berkshire International Film Festival. The cast and crew were there.

"The movie is absolutely unbelievable," said Kelley Vickery, the film festival's director. "Cynthia is one of the most talented people working the documentary film world today, and there's no question about it."

Wade said that her favorite kind of work is documentary filmmaking, but she would like to expand into other genres as well.

"The most I can do is make the best film I can make," she said, "be nice to everyone and look at ["Mondays at Racine"] as one stop in what's hopefully a long career."

To reach Adam Poulisse:,

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On Twitter: @BE_Poulisse


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