Sunday, September 14, 2008

Best of the Fests: Millionaire Wins Big at Toronto

USA Today reports on the Toronto International Film Festival, which wound up this year's festivities yesterday: "The people have spoken, or at least voted. Slumdog Millionaire, a Dickensian fable that plunges into the noisy, colorful and perilous urban chaos of India, has joined the ranks of American Beauty, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Whale Rider as a winner of the People's Choice Award, selected by festival goers and often an Oscar harbinger.

Much like Jamal, the plucky teen orphan from the teeming streets of Mumbai who wins the jackpot on the Hindi version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire only to be accused of cheating, Slumdog has risen above its lowly status. The hard-to-market title was left in limbo after art-house label Warner Independent went under, until Fox Searchlight picked it up after an enthusiastic screening at Telluride.

"Four weeks ago, we were, like, dead," says British director Danny Boyle, best known for the drug-addicted rush of 1996's Trainspotting and zombie-style thrills of 2002's 28 Days Later. "We had no hope. We were homeless, and it's a bit like the film. These festivals put you on your feet."

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