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'Penguins' beats out 'Enron,' other documentaries

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    Monday, March 06, 2006

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters): The penguins waddled off with the big prize.

    ''March of the Penguins,'' the French-made nature documentary that became a boxoffice smash, beat out films on Enron's corporate collapse, wheelchair rugby, an acrimonious mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey, and an African ecological disaster to win the Oscar for best documentary.

    French filmmakers Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau and their crew brought plush toy penguins to the stage to accept the Academy Award.

    ''March of the Penguins'' became a hit with its stark and remarkable tale of the long trek across the frozen wasteland made by Antarctica's Emperor penguins to mate and lay their eggs.

    The nature documentary, which enjoyed a long box office run after its June release, took in 117.9 million dollars worldwide to become one of the top grossing documentaries.

    Jacquet and his four-person crew spent more than a year in Antarctica trekking from the French science center, Dumont d'Urville, to the penguins' mating ground where they filmed only a few hours a day due to the life-threatening cold.

    ''March'' beat out Independent Film Award winner ''Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,'' the tale of the downfall of one of America's largest corporations.

    ''Enron'' was based on a best-selling book by Fortune magazine reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind who chronicled the unwinding of what federal prosecutors claim is one of the largest investor frauds ever perpetrated by the management of a US company.

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