In a time where movies are driven by action, CGI and comic book remakes, a black-and-white silent film almost seems to be what the first color film must have been, unbelievable.
But this year, Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist has been a favorite of critics and movie-lovers alike. Male lead Jean Dujardin won Best Actor for his role of George Valentin at the Cannes Film Festival and it was named best picture of 2011 by the New York Film Critic's Circle. On Friday night, as the movie opens in New York and Los Angeles, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival (MVFF) will also be screening it at the Capawock Theater in Vineyard Haven.
Brian Ditchfield, Managing Director of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival was among those who saw the movie at the Toronto Film Festival. Upon returning, Ditchfield set out to get the film to the Island.
“It's a real coup to get the film here before its wide release and it's one of my favorite films of the year,” said Ditchfield. “The Artist is pure fun. It is just good storytelling, romance, and laughs. It’s why we go to the movies.”
As to why we’re so lucky to be seeing the film here on the Island at the same time as New York and LA, Ditchfield attributes that to MVFF’s persistence and because the distributor, the Weinstein Company, “Likes what we do and likes the people we show movies to. We’ve played their films before and the guests we brought from those films raved about our festival. “
In celebration of the event, are going to stay open late. “We’re inviting everyone there to chat about the film and to have food and drinks after the screening. They’re also giving everyone with a ticket 10% off food before or after the movie,” said Ditchfield.
Mixing comedy, romance and melodrama, The Artist celebrates by example the black-and-white silent film of its time. Set in Hollywood in 1927, it tells the story of silent movie star George Valentin (Dujardin) who wonders whether the the arrival of talking pictures will be his demise, while he falls for a young dancer named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who is about to get her big break. The cast is full of some of the most talented actors today including John Goodman as the cigar-chomping mogul Al Zimmer, Penelope Ann Miller as his elegant wife and James Cromwell as his devoted chauffeur.
Ditchfield’s final word of advice, “Come early. We think it’s going to sell out. We’re opening the box office at 6pm.”
The Artist: Friday, December 16. 7:30pm at The Capawock in Vineyard Haven. Tickets are $5 for MVFF Members and $10 for general admission.