"The Diving Bell and the Butterly" started picking up awards at Cannes earlier this year - best director for Julian Schnabel - and the momentum hasn't stopped.
The true-life saga of a dashing Frenchman (Mathieu Amalric) learning to communicate after a paralyzing stroke was just named the National Board of Review best foreign-language film, and the film is up for three Golden Globes.
It echoes Schnabel's success with "Before Night Falls," his profile of exiled, homosexual Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas. Schnabel hails from the rough-and-tumble New York art scene, where spirited advocacy is expected, and he often promoted "Before Night Falls" at the expense of competing films.
This violated the mutual non-aggression pact that most directors observe during awards season, and it's something Schnabel now intends to avoid.
"The success of the film proves there's not need for it, really. I think the movie is its own best advocate," said Schnabel, on a recent stop in Philadelphia.
"I don't know what that means in terms of how many awards we'll win, but I do know one thing - the people who really connect with the movie, the people who really want it to be shown, are the people who work in the hospitals and rehab centers that specialize in neurological problems," he said. "It's a large, very amorphous field of medicine, but in every corner, we're finding doctors nurses and patients who get a lot of help from it. That was not my intention when I made it, but I'm glad it's happened." *