After off-years, director returns to spotlight

By the time Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” receives its European preem as the closing night film of the London Film Fest, the helmer will have completed a most unlikely comeback.

After exploding onto the Brit film scene in the early ’90′s with “Shallow Grave” and “Trainspotting,” Boyle went on to have a decidedly checkered run.

But after a rapturous reception for “Slumdog” at Telluride and Toronto, where it was awarded the fest’s coveted audience award, the helmer now can boast a genuine awards contender.

“It’s been an amazing turnaround, almost bizarre,” Boyle says. “It just shows you what a film festival can do sometimes. When you’re like me you and you’ve done a few films, you can forget how important a role a film festival can play. It literally puts your film on its feet.”

The film owes much of its success to its authenticity. Boyle shot on location in Mumbai with Indian actors often speaking their native tongue. Simon Beaufoy’s script was originally in English but, says Boyle, “Little kids don’t really speak English in Mumbai, not until they’re a bit older anyway, so when we were auditioning them, they sounded terrible. Shockingly bad.

“As soon as we started translating the early stuff into Hindi, the actors suddenly felt comfortable and the whole thing just came alive.”

With the pic set for a fall rollout — it opens in limited release Nov. 19 in the U.S. and Jan. 23 in the U.K., where Pathe is distributing — Boyle can start to focus on his next project. Not that he’s got anything lined up just yet.

“I’m absolutely open to offers now,” he says. “We literally just finished it by rushing to get it ready for Telluride and Toronto. I only ever do one thing at a time. I know you’re meant to have a lot of things on the back burner but I don’t really work like that. I tend to do just one project, go mad for it and see what happens after that.”

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