Survival drama ”2018-Everyone is a Hero”, based on the Kerala floods that year, is India’s official entry to the Academy Awards 2024, the Film Federation of India announced here on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference, Girish Kasaravalli, noted filmmaker and chairperson of the selection committee, said the 16-member jury unanimously selected the Malayalam film to represent the country.
Kasaravalli, a renowned voice in Kannada cinema, said they had a lengthy discussion before choosing ”2018” to represent India at the 2024 Academy Awards.
”It was a pan-Indian selection. And we were happy that we were 16 members and we watched 22 films in one week’s time. It was a difficult decision because there were so many good films and we had to analyse to find out which film had better merit. Finally, we decided on ‘2018 – Everyone is a Hero’,” the filmmaker said.
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According to Kasaravalli, the Jude Anthany Joseph-directed film highlights ”Indian ethos, situation and people”. ”It’s a film that talks about a calamity that Kerala faced in 2018. It not only represents India but also the calamity that’s happening around the world. The film also excels cinematically and technically,” he said.
”Such messages are linked to climate change and the so called development,” he added.
Lead star Tovino Thomas, who is currently in Amsterdam for the Septimius Awards where he won the best Asian Actor trophy for ”2018”, said it was time for celebration for the team.
”I was very happy last night and woke up even happier to this exciting news as our film ‘2018’ has been selected as India’s official entry (to Oscars). We worked in extreme conditions but it’s all paying off. This movie is now getting international acclaim. It’s great,” Thomas told PTI over phone from Amsterdam.
”I’m not with the team to celebrate this moment. But this definitely calls for a celebration,” he added.
Joseph said the announcement came as a happy surprise. ”It was such a happiness that our film is going for the Oscars as the country’s official entry,” he added.
Ravi Kottarakara, FFI president, said as many as 22 titles including Hindi films ”The Kerala Story”, ”Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani”, ”Gadar 2”, ”Zwigato”, ”The Vaccine War”, ”Mrs Chatterjee Vs Norway” as well as ”Balagam” (Telugu), ”Vaalvi” (Marathi), ”Baaplyok” (Marathi) and ”August 16, 1947” (Tamil) were also in the running. But the jury unanimously chose ”2018”. ”2018” also stars Tanvi Ram, Kunchako Boban and Aparna Balamurali. In June, the makers claimed that the film had crossed over Rs 200 crore at the box office to become the highest grossing film in Malayalam cinema.
FFI, an autonomous body of producers, exhibitors, studio owners and distributors, decides India’s official entry to the Oscars for the best international feature category. Last year, ”RRR” and ”The Elephant Whisperers”, the two Indian films which won the best original song and best documentary short, were sent to the Oscars directly by the makers, but India’s official entry in the international film category, Gujarati film ”Chhello Show”(Last Film Show), failed to make the cut in the final five nominations.
The last Indian film that made it to the final five was the Aamir Khan-led “Lagaan” in 2001. The 96th Academy Awards are scheduled to take place on March 10, 2024 in Los Angeles.