Oscars 2023: How Leslie Paterson used her passion as a professional triathlete to fund her Oscar-nominated dream film


LOS ANGELES- Who will win the Best Picture Oscar? The triathlon community has a favorite.

Leslie Paterson, the Scottish executive producer and screenwriter of Netflix’s The Silence on the Western Front, is also a five-time world triathlon champion.

After 16 years, the film finally came to life, and the journey to get there is one Paterson will never forget.

“My heart is out and about,” he said. “I love the landscape, I feel closely connected to the earth. This is where I get creative and different inspiration.”

Literature inspired him in graduate school, where Paterson studied film and theater. She and her husband bought the film rights, but she ran into problems.

“We have to sign a contract, they have to pick you and you have to pay money, and often it’s only for a year or 18 months and you have to renew it,” Paterson explained.

Needing money to renew those rights in 2016, he found a race he thought he could win in Costa Rica. His plan was to use the money to pay bills.

“The day before the race, I fell on the course and broke my shoulder,” he said.

A broken shoulder in a triathlon is like a flat tire before a car race, unless your husband has a doctorate in sports psychology.

“He said, ‘Look, Les, you’re really good at one-handed training. Why not try swimming with one arm?’ I thought, “It’s a little crazy, but I like to be crazy, so I’ll give it a try.”

He left.

Paterson swam a mile with one arm and emerged from the water in 12 minutes. He worked his way around the peloton and moved up to second, then immediately took the win.

“I’m a fighter,” said Paterson, who credited her husband for the extra effort. “I never give up, so he knew I wanted to do it, and he supported me.”

All Quiet on the Western Front is nominated for a total of nine Oscars, including Best Picture.

“What’s great about the film winning all these awards and accolades is that we’re getting more attention for the film, especially for the younger generation,” Paterson said.

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