UMBC Watch

"We are extremely proud of Bill Whiteford for bringing us stories of extraordinary lives and sharing the power of the human spirit to overcome life's challenges."

--President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III

UMBC Alumnus Wins Oscar for Documentary Film

William A. Whiteford, a 1980 UMBC graduate who majored in interdisciplinary studies, took home an Oscar for best short documentary film from this year's Academy Awards ceremony.

King Gimp, co-produced with Susan Hadary, chronicles 14 years in the life of Dan Keplinger, a Baltimore-based artist who lives with cerebral palsy. The 39-minute film, crafted from more than 80 hours of videotape, began as a federally funded documentary on mainstreaming children with disabilities.

Whiteford credits UMBC with teaching him basic filmmaking techniques and nurturing his love for storytelling. “It's a fascinating career to be involved in someone else's life,” he says. “You get to live through the process and develop a relationship and a bond with the subjects.”

In the course of their 20-year careers as filmmakers, Whiteford and Hadary have won several Emmys, Cable Ace, and other awards. They recently produced a three-part series for The Learning Channel on the emotional and psychological stresses affecting emergency health care workers. Their current projects include one focusing on death and dying from parent-child perspectives.

King Gimp will air on HBO June 5. Whiteford's Oscar isn't UMBC's only connection with Hollywood. Actress Kathleen Turner, who received Golden Globe awards for her roles in Romancing the Stone and Prizzi's Honor, studied theatre at UMBC in the mid-1970s.

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