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Slumdog creator to direct opening ceremonies for 2010 London Olympics

August 7th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Michael Doxey

British film director Danny Boyle will be one of the four artistic directors to design and direct opening ceremonies at the 2012 Olympic Games in England.

Boyle, a 2008 nominee for best director for his Slumdog Millionaire, will team with Beijing 2008 Games designer Mark Fisher, TV director Hamish Hamilton and producer Catherine Ugwu, each of whom brings unique talents to the opening extravaganza.

Fisher has valuable Olympic experience, while Hamilton has directed special events such as the Academy Awards, Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and the Superbowl halftime show. Ugwu is a London artistic director. But Boyle’s visionary style, exemplified in such films as Sunshine and 28 Days Later, offers a twist in conventional televised and Olympic programming.

The 2012 team will be hard-pressed to live up to recent multi-million-dollar trends in Olympic opening ceremonies, especially the 2008 Beijing Olympics opener, which was designed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou and cost as mush as a blockbuster film: $105 million.

Olympic opening ceremonies are viewed as a vital aspect to setting the tone for the competitions that follow. In many ways—as was especially true of the Chinese Games—they are also the host nation’s statement to the world, and—as in Salt Lake City in 2002, Beijing in 2008, and 2010 in Vancouver—a way to celebrate the host nation’s heritage.

This explains why no expense is spared in the creation of the events: the total budget for London’s Olympics is 9.3 billion pounds—$14.8 billion at current rates—which has generated controversy, including concerns that the games’ planning and execution will take money away from other sporting and art groups. London’s Olympic Organizing Committee promises, however, that the games will generate a profit that will in turn support the community.

With so much riding on the 2012 Olympics, it is no wonder that Boyle was picked to represent his country as artistic director. Lord Coe, chair of the London Organizing Committee, told BBC Radio 4, “These Games are bringing together world-class British talent…. [E]ach one of these individuals would hold their own on the worldwide stage.”

Boyle has a Utah connection, having just finished his latest film, 127 Hours, starring James Franco. It is based on the true story of hiker Aron Ralston, who in 2003 was trapped by a boulder in Canyonlands for five days, and ultimately cut off his own arm to escape.

Boyle plans to begin full-time work on the Olympics early next year.


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