An On-Campus Oscar Nominee
Researcher Executive-Produced Lauded Documentary
By Chris Carroll
Photo courtesy of HBO
A contemplative documentary about two brothers who nurse injured birds of prey back to health in New Delhi dominated the film festival circuit before earning a trip to the Academy Awards for a UMD biologist who doubles as a film studio head.
Sean B. Carroll, the Andrew and Mary Balo and Nicholas and Susan Simon Endowed Chair, also runs Tangled Bank Studios at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where he is vice president of science education. He served as executive producer for “All That Breathes” by filmmaker Shaunak Sen, which competed in March for the Oscar for best documentary, a category won by “Navalny.”
Although “All That Breathes” touched on many of Tangled Bank’s key themes involving the interconnectedness of nature, Carroll admits he wasn’t sure it would snare American audiences. He was surprised by its wins at the 2022 Sundance and Cannes film festivals—and was flummoxed by the necessity of procuring a tux for the Oscars ceremony: “Dressing up for me is below dental work in terms of things I prefer,” he says.
His studio is typically involved in educational or heavily science-based films, making the documentary an outlier—in the best possible way, Carroll says: “It has been a magic ride for all involved.”
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