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With hindsight, successful ideas always look brilliant, but that doesn’t mean everyone involved viewed them as such from the outset. That’s especially true in the world of film finance, where producers are loathe to gamble with people’s money, and the best approach is usually the one that worked last time.

So when French director Michel Hazanavicius was trying to get his pet project “The Artist” — a black-and-white tribute to the silent films of the 1920s — off the ground, he encountered plenty of skeptics.

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