Thursday, September 1, 2011

Telluride 2011: Preview

This year I get to attend the Telluride Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado, a movie-lovers event that I’ve dreamed about for years.  Roger Ebert has said that of the major festivals, Cannes is the most important, Toronto is the most useful, but Telluride is the most fun.  The special thing about Telluride is that the lineup isn’t revealed until you get to this insanely picturesque mountain village.  This seems to invite serious film fans instead of celeb watchers.  On top of the new movies, there are revivals, outdoor films, Q&As with filmmakers, and a picnic on Labour Day!

Today, my wife and I picked up our passes—we got the ACME pass which gets us into all movies showing at the Chuck Jones Cinema—and walked around town, getting used to the high altitude.  The official program is released tomorrow at noon, but we were given a guide that reveals most of the films and special programs we can expect to see.  The festival also awards a Silver Medallion to three artists who have made significant contributions to cinema.  This year those recipients are George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Pierre Étaix, a French filmmaker unfamiliar to me who learned his craft from Jacques Tati.  That’s part of the beauty of this festival: not just seeing movies from filmmakers I am familiar with, but new discoveries.

According to our guide, the movies showing at the Chuck Jones tomorrow night include The Artist from France.  A silent film in black & white, it made a huge impression at the Cannes Film Festival this past May, winning the Best Actor award for Jean Dujardin.  Following that is Great Expectations, a collection of short films from emerging directors.  And the late show is Werner Herzog’s new documentary about death row inmates Into the Abyss, sure to be a sobering experience.  Herzog is a filmmaker who has really moved me with both his fiction films (Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo) and his docs (Encounters at the End of the World).  Friday is sure to be an exhilarating day at the movies.

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