Thursday, September 2, 2010

37th Annual Telluride Film Festival Releases Stellar Lineup

Peter Weir, Danny Boyle, Mark Romanek and Errol Morris will be headlining this year's Telluride Film Festival, which kicks off tomorrow, Friday September 3rd and runs through Labor Day. The Telluride Film Festival is best known for its eclectic programming philosophy which keeps its film schedule secret until hours before the first screenings.

Attendees will have their choice of outdoor screenings, shorts programs, filmmaker panels and sneak peeks at some of the fall's new releases as the program unspools through Monday.

Unlike the Cannes and the Sundance Film Festival audiences, which are heavily composed of show-business types, or the Toronto International Film Festival, which has a more populist bent, Telluride is programmed by and for literate film geeks. Its attendees shell out $780 for passes year in and year out as an act of faith, having no idea what movies they will see after traveling thousands of miles to get there.

It's an intimate, high-altitude, real movie-lover's festival set in the lush box canyon in the western end of the San Juan Mountains -- at 13, 500 feet to be exact. The talent is not shuttling in an out of limousines like the pressure cooker of Toronto or Sundance. Stars are relaxed and at home in Telluride. Highlights of 2008 include chatting with actor Jeff Goldblum, director David Fincher, and scoring photo ops with Danny Boyle and Laura Linney at the Labor Day Picnic (below).

Director Danny Boyle & festival regular Terri "Cinephile" Atmore (right),
Telluride 2008

Telluride Film Festival regular actress Laura Linney, 2008

In recent years, Telluride patrons have been the first to see and embrace "Up in the Air," "Capote," "Brokeback Mountain," "The Last Station, "Lost in Translation," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "The Last King of Scotland" — and other gems.

Three years ago the audience reaction to Jason Reitman's "Juno" was so enthusiastic that Fox Searchlight promptly threw it on its holiday schedule, and "Juno" not only received four Oscar nominations (winning for original screenplay), but also grossed more than $143 million in domestic release. The studio's Telluride experience was just as good in 2008, where it premiered Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire." The movie went to win eight Academy Awards (including best picture), and grossed more than $141 million.

"Telluride is a unique film festival in that it is less dominated by industry insiders," says Steve Gilula, whose Fox Searchlight will have three movies in Telluride: 127 Hours, Boyle's account of how Aron Ralston (James Franco) was forced to cut off his hand after a hiking accident; Never Let Me Go, Romanek's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's dystopian novel starring Carey Mulligan; and Black Swan, director Darren Aronofsky's disturbing look at a ballerina (Natalie Portman) trying too hard to perfect "Swan Lake."

Boyle will officially be on hand to present a special Sunday morning screening of his 2005 film "Millions." It is widely expected that he will also sneak in his new film 127 Hours ahead of its Toronto screening. Fox Searchlight has a November theatrical release scheduled for the drama, which stars James Franco as a hiker trapped under a boulder in Utah for days.

The Way Back, © Exclusive Film

Six-time Academy Award nominee Peter Weir will be in town to receive one of the fest's special tributes, the Silver Medallion Award, which will highlight the career that produced "The Last Wave," "Witness," "Dead Poet's Society," "Fearless" and "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World." In addition to a special screening of his 1979 movie "The Plumber," the fest will screen his latest film, The Way Back, which features Ed Harris, Mark Strong and Colin Farrell as soldiers who escape a Siberian gulag in 1940 and walk all the way to India.

The other two Silver Medallion Award recipients include Claudia Cardinale and Colin Firth. The award recognizes an artist’s significant contribution to the world of cinema.

Italian film star Claudia Cardinale (8½, The Leopard, The Pink Panther) will receive the Silver Medallion followed by an onstage interview conducted by Hilton Als (Saturday) and Davia Nelson (Sunday). The program will include a screening of Valerio Zurlini’s Girl with a Suitcase (Italy, 1961).
Telluride audiences will be the first to see British actor Colin Firth’s performance in The King's Speech. The film will be preceded by a survey of Firth’s career (Pride and Prejudice, Girl with a Pearl Earring, A Single Man), the presentation of the Silver Medallion and an onstage interview with Davia Nelson (Sunday) and Todd McCarthy (Monday).

Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'Biutiful'
starring Javier Bardem to screen at Telluride

While Telluride is not known primarily as a sales festival, a handful of movies come to the festival without a domestic distributor and attract a deal in the days and weeks that follow — as was the case a year ago with the Leo Tolstoy drama "The Last Station." This year, the Telluride films looking for a home include Weir's prison escape drama "The Way Back," the animated musical "Chico and Rita," the Israeli-Palestinian documentary "Precious Life" and the inheritance drama "Incendies."

In keeping with Festival tradition, additional “Sneak Previews” are expected to surprise attendees over the weekend. Sneaks will be announced on the Telluride Film Festival webpage throughout the weekend.
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Source: TellurideFilmFestival

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