Ireland's The Secret of Kells is drawing a lot of attention for its underdog status in the Best Animated Feature category at this weekend's Oscars.
The New York Times has a very interesting piece on the film's grassroots marketing campaign.
Here are a couple of snippets:
“We scratched our heads and said, ‘What is the best way to get this film a nomination?’ ” said Eric Beckman, the president of GKIDS, the four-person company that bought the rights to distribute “The Secret of Kells” in the United States just days before the Oscar nomination forms were due. “Do we need to take out big ads in Variety to reach the 100 or so people in this committee? It seemed like a viral word-of-mouth campaign would be more successful.”
"To make the movie, he [director Tomm Moore] formed a company with a few college friends. “We wanted to do something in this kind of Gaelic tradition,” he said, “and we knew that a lot of people liked Celtic design, because you see it in people’s tattoos and in Irish pubs — it’s everywhere.” Drawn first by the visuals, he developed the story while researching the Book of Kells, which is housed at Trinity College in Dublin, taking as much from history (down to the character of a mischievous cat) as possible."
Meanwhile, Roger Ebert is hosting a new review of "Kells" from Taiwanese critic Robert Tan.
Here's a sampling of Tan's fine commentary:
"You'd think that with many things going on, the film is bound to sag beneath its weight. Quite the opposite, it all appears maddeningly effortless (even too effortless). That alone is an accomplishment seldom equalled by other films that strive for the same feat. Filmwise, this is a welcome change from the cheap thrills, easy profundity and flat storytelling that are rampant in today's movies."
And finally, Salon.com's Andrew O'Hehir picks up the underdog flag in his report on the film. Here's your requisite sample...
"But those movies [the other nominees in the Best Animated Feature category] had all been widely seen, favorably reviewed and discussed as possible Oscar fodder. Nobody, and I mean absolutely nobody, was prepared for the nomination of "The Secret of Kells," a dazzling, not to mention utterly charming, hand-drawn fable about a 12-year-old boy's adventures in early medieval Ireland. "We thought we might be in line for some Irish and European awards, and that would be that," says director Tomm Moore. "The Oscars? No way. That never entered my mind."