Berkeley filmmaker wins Academy Award for “Inside Job”

When Berkeley resident Charles Ferguson walked onto the stage last night to accept an Academy Award for his documentary Inside Job, he used the limelight to castigate those who fostered the 2008 economic collapse.

“Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong,” Ferguson told the millions of people tuned into the Oscars broadcast.

Charles Ferguson accepting an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Photo: AFP Photo/ Gabriel Bouys.

That kind of sharp criticism is a Ferguson hallmark and is one reason the still fairly-new filmmaker’s films have resonated so deeply. Ferguson, 55, a UC Berkeley graduate, made his fortune in the software business, selling one firm in 1996 to Microsoft for $133 million. After writing a number of books, Ferguson started a film company, Representational Pictures, based in New York. His first film, No End In Sight, about the Iraq War, was released in 2007. It was also nominated for an Academy Award. Inside Job was released in October 2010.

Oprah Winfrey handed the statuette to Ferguson and his producer Audrey Marrs. Ferguson put a bit of levity into his speech, too, when he said “Let the record show I am not wearing jeans.”

Ferguson splits his time between Berkeley and New York.

Inside Job is still showing at Shattuck Cinemas on Shattuck Avenue.

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  • I confess, I didn’t understand the jeans reference.

  • His remark about financial executives was the only meaningful event in an otherwise incredibly dull Oscar night.

  • Peggy

    This is one terrific documentary. Go see it!

  • Valenta

    So glad he said something to wake folks up a bit..

  • karen

    I am pleased that their are documentary filmmakers who still have integrity. The film was difficult to watch. If you have enough money and political pull you can get away with anything
    and of course they knew this, how else could they, the financial masterminds, be so incredibly brazen and unconscionable. It doesn’t matter how intelligent a person is if they are unethical.
    Shame. Shame. Shame.

  • Bruce Love

    Think locally and act globally. People on this site bicker about local public policy and I suppose that that’s a good thing. As we do so, especially about zoning and development and budget issues, and public services (from schools and first responders to parks and rec.). We ought (in my opinion) pay more attention to the pressing and timly implications in those discussions of:

    1) The absolute and irredeemable mess our Wall St. and Fed overlords have made.

    2) The imminence – neigh – presence of serious fuel price volatility with a sharp upward trend (due both to peak oil and political regional instabilities and their inter-relation).

    3) The global presence – and hitting home here – of serious food inflation and the realistic threat of shortages even here if things go only slightly worse than the current trajectory.

    I could go on but so much of this town’s planning and its civic expectations are premised on perpetuation of high real estate values, significant amounts of high-end retail trade, never-ending streams of development money, and lots of hot money for high tech ventures. None of these conditions are going to survive serious and sustained fuel and food inflation, relative to that real estate deflation, perpetually lousy credit markets, a shift away from cheap imports in the balance of trade due to currency deflation, and so on.

    I guess I could that if I could, I would wave my hand and usher in shift in public policy planning and action in Berkeley (and the region) much, much more towards hunkering down, contingency planning, and robustness-building on basic things like safety, food security, housing, education, and so forth. A much greater sense, I think, of appropriate urgency for the circumstances of our time.

  • Bruce Love

    (I should add that outrage at the crimes against humanity of the folks most responsible for the financial crisis is all well and good. It’s a luxury though. It doesn’t fix the problems they made.)

  • Mike Farrell

    @Bruce –
    I presume you meant “nay” rather than “neigh,” unless of course you’re a horse or part of one’s anatomy.
    I just couldn’t help myself……………

  • Bruce Love

    @Mike, thanks :-)

    I’ll just go and console myself now. Their, there, Bruce.

  • Inside Job is a terrific combination of facts and advocacy. Anybody else putting the financial crisis on film in an organized and often entertaining way? Kate Kline May