Clutching his first Oscar, cinematographer and Palatine High School graduate Mauro Fiore Sunday thanked "Avatar" director James Cameron "for his amazing vision" and his Italian parents "who came to America with four suitcases and a dream."
Fiore, 45, a 1982 graduate from Palatine High School, also graduated from Columbia College in Chicago in 1987.
The moment his win for best cinematographer was announced, an entire Columbia College Oscar party in Los Angeles broke into wild cheering.
"The whole room is cheering and yelling for Mauro's Oscar right now," said Paolo Cascio, a Schaumburg High School graduate who worked with Fiore and knew him from Columbia.
"I'm so proud of him," he added in a phone interview. "It's really a joy for all of us."
Peter Teschner, another Columbia grad attending the party, said there was concern that the extensive CGI work in "Avatar" might have weighed against Fiore. Thus, Teschner was shocked but happy that the Academy recognized his friend's camera work.
"His work was extraordinary, obviously," said Teschner, who grew up in Hinsdale. "The movie is beautiful."