Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A story well told will find an audience...

In the same year that Barack Obama became President, 'Slumdog Millionaire' was announced as best picture by the Academy.

Our world is changing in profound ways, and it's affecting every art and industry, including the most powerful of them all, cinema.

Here's another excerpt from the NYT that just came out today:

"American film is one of the last remaining exports, a kind of bejeweled software that the rest of the world clearly loves. More than half of the money American movies make at the box office comes from elsewhere in the world, and given the downward trajectory of DVD sales domestically, those global markets are only going to grow in importance.

But global imperatives go both ways. When a film with a British director, Indian actors and French co-financing goes home with eight Oscars, it’s hard not to see a message.

“I think it demonstrates that a good story well told, whether it is about someone in Mumbai, China or around the corner, will find an audience,” said Nancy Utley, chief operating officer at Fox Searchlight, the division of 20th Century Fox that found Oscar (and box office) gold after picking up “Slumdog Millionaire.” She added that the studio specialty division knew it had a winner on its hands when it screen-tested the film in Orange County, Calif. — sort of a ground zero of a conventional American audience — without any marketing or explanation, and the room loved it...

The winner of the documentary short category, “Smile Pinki,” was filmed in India as well. Working the carpet, I spent time making nice with its young subject, Pinki Sonkar, radiant after a cleft palate repair and a film about her journey. At the end of the interview with her and the film’s director, Megan Mylan, I awkwardly folded my hands together at my chin and bowed, as I had when the kids of “Slumdog” came through.

“I’m going to have to learn how to do that,” said a reporter next to me. It will be clumsy for everyone. Hollywood’s efforts to globalize its content as well as its business have been a train wreck for the most part, but for a stagnant industry under duress at home, the rest of the world is waiting for their stories to be told as well."

You can read the whole article here.

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