The 40th Telluride Film Festival was held this Labor Day weekend in the small former mining town in the mountains of southwest Colorado. The streets were again crowded with film enthusiasts. Flags from around the world reflected the international nature of the Film Festival.
Schedules are not announced in advance, adding to the mystique of the unique event. For the 40th, the Festival had an extra day, so more opportunities not to miss a desired film. The schedule is always very full.
A restored opera house celebrating its 100th anniversary was one of the nine venues showing films, plus a nightly outdoor screening. The high school gym and Mason’s Hall are reconfigured with top-of-the line projection equipment. This year a new theater named for German director Werner Herzog, a Telluride regular, was built over the ice rink in the Town Park.
Passholders can wait in the same lines as filmmakers showing films at Telluride, as well as with visitors like Michael Moore and former guest director Salman Rushdie.
“12 Years a Slave” based on the true story of a free man sold into slavery in the South was a Sneak Preview. The film, directed by Steve McQueen (“Hunger”), has notable performances from Chiwetel Ejiofer, Michael Fassbender and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. All were at Telluride as well as Brad Pitt, one of the film’s producers, who has a supporting role in the film. The audience response was so strong that the film became an award frontrunner.
A high point was the Tribute to directors/writers/brothers Joel and Ethan Coen and their music producer T Boone Burnett. Their new “Inside Llewyn Davis” is the Coen’s best since “Barton Fink”.
Since Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank Telluride, it seemed appropriate that another Tribute was to the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford who discussed his long career. His showed his latest “All Is Lost” in which he is the lone character, a man struggling to survive a severely damaged boat in a remote area.
The other tribute was to Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof whose film “Manuscripts Don’t Burn” was shot in secret in Iran and without credits to protect the actors and crew.
Also at Telluride: Bruce Dern (Best Actor at Cannes) and director Alexander Payne with their popular “Nebraska”, Ralph Fiennes who directs and stars as Charles Dickens in “The Invisible Woman”, director Abdellatif Kechiche and actresses Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos who shared the Palme d’Or at Cannes for the controversial “Blue Is the Warmest Color”.
Future blogs on the Coen Brothers and Redford tributes and more on the films mentioned.