U.S distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films president Peter Goldwyn has weighed in on the backlash to India’s selection of its competitor for this year’s best international film race at the Oscars, calling candidate “Last Film Show,” which it will release in North America, “a really strong contender.”
Directed by Pan Nalin (“Samsara,” “Valley of Flowers”), the Gujarati-language film is the story of a nine-year old boy pursuing his dreams in cinema. It debuted at the Tribeca Festival in 2021 and has since played fests in Palms Springs, Seattle and Mill Valley. “Last Film Show” will have its commercial release in Gujarat, India on Oct. 14, 2022, giving it the necessary qualifying theatrical run in its home territory.
The selection by the Film Federation of India was announced last week, immediately sparking a backlash, led by cries that popular blockbuster musical “RRR” was snubbed. Director SS Rajamouli’s action film has done huge business worldwide, with some arguing it would offer a more accessible experience to Oscar voters.
Variance Films, the stateside distributor of “RRR,” still plans to mount an Oscar campaign urging Academy voters to consider the film in other categories.
“Last Film Show” has also attracted its own backlash, with online claims suggesting that it hews too closely to Giuseppe Tornatore’s 1988 Italian classic “Cinema Paradiso.”
BN Tiwari, president of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees, has even claimed that “Last Film Show” is foreign-produced and should not be considered as an Indian work. The film is represented in international markets by France’s Orange Studios and is structured as a majority Indian-minority French co-production using the bilateral treaty between the two countries. Indian companies involved in the production include: Jugaad Motion Pictures, Monsoon Films, Chhello Show LLP and Roy Kapur Films. The French co-producer is Virginie Films.
“We believe that ‘Last Film Show’ speaks to the heart and soul of cinema, which will be appealing not only to moviegoers in the United States but also Academy members,” said SGF president Peter Goldwyn. “We believe that the film is a really strong contender this year, and we’re excited to bring it to American audiences. We are also eager to bring our expertise with Academy Awards campaigns to the release of this title.”
“Orange Studio was the first believer in Pan Nalin’s beautiful film ‘Last Film Show.’ We acquired the movie at the script level and came on board to handle the world sales of the film. The film has been sold to multiple territories and we are looking forward to its release in Italy on 24th November and Japan on 20th January (2023). However, the most important releases will be in India on 14th October and in the U.S. with our distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films towards the end of the year, which coincides with the Oscar campaign,” said Kristina Zimmerman, CEO of Orange Studio (“The Father,” “The Artist”).
“Our years of experience tells us that ‘Last Film Show’ has a huge chance of winning the hearts of moviegoers around the world and especially Academy Award members. And we plan to dedicate our total attention to running a successful Oscar campaign in coordination with our partners at Samuel Goldwyn Films for ‘Last Film Show,'” she said.
Variance said that “RRR” will be submitted for best picture, director (S.S. Rajamouli), original screenplay (Rajamouli and V. Vijayendra Prasad), lead actor (for both N.T. Rama Rao Jr and Ram Charan), supporting actor (Ajay Devgn), supporting actress (Alia Bhatt), original song (“Naatu Naatu”), original score (M.M. Keeravaani), cinematography, production design, film editing, costume design, makeup and hairstyling, sound and visual effects.