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DGA Awards 2012: Michel Hazanavicius is finally a believer

Berenice Bejo, Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin of "The Artist"

Michel Hazanavicius would be the first to tell you that never in a million years did he expect to win the top award from the Directors Guild of America for his film "The Artist." But Saturday evening's DGA Awards shattered any doubts he may have had.

"I remember when we finished the movie, we didn't even have any distributors," Hazanavicius said on the red carpet.

"We didn't know how we were going to see the movie. We spent time looking for a way."

PHOTOS: Directors Guild Awards 2012 red carpet arrivals

Hazanavicius was not alone in expressing his complete and genuine disbelief over the film's success. Jean Dujardin, the film's lead actor, said he never saw it coming either.

"People still can't even comprehend what Michel created," Dujardin explained in his native French. "In the end, it was the work of a bunch of different forces that came together. The optimistic message is to believe in yourself."

"And to have some crazy producers, some crazy actors, as well as a crazy director," he added.

Last week, "The Artist" won the Producers Guild of America award, and on Tuesday the film earned 10 Oscar nominations. Hazanavicius had already been named best director by the New York Film Critics Circle and the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, and is nominated for BAFTA and Independent Spirit award for best director.

Hazanavicius, wearing a classic black tuxedo and his staple dark framed glasses, attributed "The Artist's" success to "a combination of several things. First, because of the way silent movies work, the audience has to put so much of themselves in it," he said.

"There is nothing cynical or sarcastic about the film. It is very naïve, so when you watch it, you are like a child. The movie reminds you why you first loved movies," he added.

Berenice Bejo, the film's lead actress and the director's wife, wore a black-and-gold, flapper-style dress in honor of the film's 1927 time period.

"Michel is someone who is not only very smart but also has a good sense of humor and a good sense of the frames," said Bejo, her hair pulled together in a whimsical ponytail. "When he makes a film, I can always trust it's going to be a beautiful movie."

For Hazanavicius, the award from the DGA is the highest recognition he could have hoped for. "People at the DGA know what it takes to direct and what work goes into it," he said. "I really adore and respect directors -- I love being in their company."

RELATED:

PHOTOS: Golden Globes 2012 red carpet

PHOTOS: Screen Actors Guild Awards 2012 red carpet arrivals

-- Jasmine Elist

Photo: Berenice Bejo, left, award-winning director Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin backstage at the 64th Directors Guild of America Awards in Hollywood on Saturday. Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

 
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