With three Golden Globes and 10 Oscar nominations, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist has become a must-watch movie. It opens in India on February 17, and the French film’s Indian distributors, Top Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, along with producer-director Anurag Kashyap, on January 20, flagged off The Artist Short Film contest.
Entries for a three-minute black-and-white short film without dialogue were invited from across India. The Jean Dujardin-Bérénice Bejo starrer is set in Hollywood, between 1927-1932, when silent movies were making way for talkies. “We are in talks with some directors, ad and documentary filmmakers and critics to join Anurag and Rajeev Masand, of CNN-IBN, as the judges. The winner will be announced on February 24,” says Rajiv Sangari, MD, Top Entertainment.
Silent film The Artist won 10 nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress among others. The film is about silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) who wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion.
Anurag asserts that The Artist was one of the finest films of 2011. “I love it for the cinematic experience it offers and the nostalgia it evokes. As cinema, it represents unadulterated and wholesome filmmaking with simple storytelling taking precedence over technical embellishment. It’s a study in the craft and the nuances of film-making,” he says.
The winner will be flown down to Mumbai and get to watch his movie with Anurag. It will also be screened as a special on CNN-IBN. “Participants should focus on effective storytelling and use black-and-white tones and the silent medium as an innovative and alternative story-telling technique,” advises Rajiv, adding that they are in touch with The Artist team to get them to view the final entries.
He believes the film is a strong contender for the Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor-Male Oscars. In Birmingham, viewers demanded a refund, as the film was in black-and-white and silent. Isn’t he apprehensive about similar reactions in India? “These are individual choices, the world’s greatest critics have applauded it. I have seen it twice and never once missed having ‘dialogue’. It’s an example of sublime story-telling and I’m confident about it working in India because it has a lot of drama and emotions and the content is close to our Indian films,” says Anurag.