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Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog's Oscar race
The director of Slumdog Millionaire is working hard in an effort to gain an Oscar nod.
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The Oscars campaign for 'Slumdog Millionaire' is underway and Danny Boyle's travelling about trying to promote his film everywhere.

"When you work [in the US] you work in Los Angeles and New York – they are the great hubs, they are the great centres," he explains. "But I also toured around. I have done San Francisco and Boston, we went to Chicago Film Festival and the Austin Film Festival in Texas."

Slumdog MillionaireDanny Boyle is one of Britain’s most inventive directors, having made landmark pictures like 'Trainspotting'. 'Slumdog Millionaire' has been earmarked by its distributor as having Oscar potential. It’s seen as a highly original rags to riches story and romance set in Mumbai. But the problem is, it has no big name stars. So Boyle has been spreading the word as much as he can.

He talks to the Daily Telegraph in London, later on there’s a television interview and a radio encounter in studio. It’s relentless, but Boyle has no problem selling his film.

"I like the underdog story," he says. "I really relate to that."

As Danny Boyle explains to me over lunch at a New York coffee shop, getting good press is only half the challenge – he needs to pitch Oscar voter directly. Many of them belong to professional association or guilds.

"It has been basically a whole series of question and answer sessions with guilds like the Producers Guild, the Directors Guilds, and the Screen Actors Guild. You position the film in front of these people at this time of year in the hope of getting some nominations in the award season."

It’s crucial he meets the right people. One of India’s top filmmakers, Mira Nair, an Oscar voter and a likely champion of Boyle's Mumbai-set film, is welcomed at a screening venue. Danny Boyle is a seasoned director, but this is a heady time.

"We did this big round table interview with all these directors. Clint Eastwood was there so that was a big buzz. My dad is not impressed with very much to do with the film industry, but he was impressed by that."

Danny BoyleThis Oscars campaign is being carefully orchestrated under the watchful eye of Fox Searchlight, the film’s North American distributor. They like Danny Boyle, but the bottom line is money – if his film gets Oscar nominations it will bring them a publicity windfall. That means thousands of extra dollars at the box office and subsequent DVD sales.

Grady Hendrix, Variety: "Fox Searchlight is pushing hard for Danny Boyle to get nominated for an Oscar, probably for best director, and probably for also for best film also for 'Slumdog Millionaire'. They've got a very good record with taking English language and foreign films that are sort of independent and making them a much bigger to do."

This early campaign seems to be working. The press is nearly all positive and, thanks to Boyle’s presence at certain key events, word is getting through to Oscar voters.

"The trick is you do all this attention seeking and you think you are doing a lot and you are already exposed," says Boyle. "But then you talk to your driver and you ask them if they've heard of film and they say they've never heard of it and you realize there is a lot to do."

If all goes according to plan then the underdog Slumdog could became one of the top dogs at the Oscars.

 

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