Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Where is The Artist?

Published Thursday, 16 February 2012
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The whole world is talking about one film, The Artist, so why in Northern Ireland is it nowhere to be seen?

This is by far the best film of the year, an instant classic, which embodies the very essence of cinema. If we, in Northern Ireland, are not screening this sensational film then we might as well shut down all our cinemas.

Last Sunday night The Artist swept the board at the BAFTAs winning seven awards, including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Film. My joy at this deserved triumph soon turned to horror when, after consulting the cinema listings for Northern Ireland, I discovered that this great film was showing in only one tiny screen in the whole country! (A VIP lounge at £10 a ticket).

Something has gone seriously wrong! We have more than fifty cinema screens in Belfast and there is only one screening! And if Belfast is not showing this film, then what hope is there for the rest of Northern Ireland?

To be fair, The Artist has been screened at the QFT in early January, for a sellout two week run, which unfortunately due to other commitments could not be extended and also for one night only at last year's Foyle Film Festival.

But, this is merely scraps at the cinematic table. We should be showing this film everywhere across the land for young and old to enjoy. No doubt in the case of The Artist, the film's distributor is to blame, as I know our cinemas work hard to please.

I feel we the cinema audience of Northern Ireland also must take our share of the blame. Yes, The Artist is a French film. Yes, The Artist is in black and white. And yes The Artist is a silent movie. But NO, NO, NO, that does not mean that we are not sophisticated enough to watch this film.

Are we really that backward? Don't forget the first films we ever saw here, long before Hollywood took over, were French, silent, black and white films - and we loved them!

The Artist has won critical acclaim and a clutch of awards

The Artist is not a niche film for an arthouse audience, it is as universal as It's A Wonderful Life, as entertaining as Singing In The Rain and as magical as The Wizard Of Oz. Written and directed by French maestro Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist is a passionate love letter to the golden age of movie making and the silver screen.

Set in Hollywoodland in 1927, The Artist is a classic rags to riches story for wannabe starlet Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) who is plucked out of an anonymous crowd to become a movie star. It is also a riches to rags story for silent movie star Georges Valentine (Jean Dujardin) who with the coming of movie sound loses his sparkle.

As well as charm, wit and pathos, The Artist is also a captivating love story between the two film stars as their glittering careers slide in different directions. And if that is not enough, it also features a wonderful little doggie called Uggie who delights in every scene. (He is an award winner too, having recently won the Golden Collar award for the best performance by a dog in a film).

The Artist has been wowing critics and audiences alike since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May. I, like so many, have been waiting with such anticipation to see this film and then it inexplicably disappears off our screens. So please filmgoers of Northern Ireland, WAKE UP!

Go to your local cinema and demand to see The Artist.

The Artist (Cert U) is currently not showing at a cinema near you, but it should be!

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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