Brooklynite Cynthia Wade is off to the Oscars this weekend, where her film Freeheld will vie for the Best Documentary Short award. The film follows Laurel Hester, the late New Jersey police lieutenant who, while battling terminal cancer in 2005, fought for the right to transfer her pension to her domestic partner Stacie Andree. But while most filmmakers downplay their Oscar ambitions, Wade promised Hester from the beginning that she'd pursue a nomination. "I never would have made a 38-minute film otherwise, because there's no home for a 38-minute film," she says. "The issue really does mean something to me. It's not just a career move; Laurel wanted me to take it as far as I could take it. I guess people are afraid it's going to make me sound arrogant, or it's going to backfire. The truth is I still deferred salary for two years. I'm scraping by to pay the people in my office. And the goal really is to try to make change around the elections."
More seasonal issues are at stake as well. "They send you this DVD that tells you how to make an acceptance speech," Wade said. "Tom Hanks speaks directly to you. It's kind of intimidating. He says: 'I'm going to see you here. Every heart in this auditorium is going to be pounding, including yours. Here's what to do if you win.'" No cancelled parties are going to keep her off the social scene, either. "I guess everybody who's going is invited to the Governor's Ball," she said. "I've talked to people who said 'I can't wear the same dress to the Oscars that I wore to the Governor's Ball.' I was like, 'What? Huh?' It's little things like that make me feel I'm beyond my element a bit." She thinks for a moment, and allows common sense to reign. "I think I'm going to wear the same dress. The short documentary is not a high-profile category." -S.T. VanAirsdale