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Celebrating Cinema as an Art, Telluride Unveils ’09 Fest

Celebrating Cinema as an Art, Telluride Unveils '09 Fest

Twenty six new films, a dozen classic titles and a selection of documentaries and shorts are on tap for this weekend’s Telluride Film Festival. The event is set to kick off tomorrow (Friday) in the small Colorado mountain town, running through Monday evening in its annual Labor Day weekend slot. Filmmakers are traveling from as far away as India and Australia for the event, a carefully curated showcase of films held each year for some 6,000 or so attendees.

Among the upcoming films making the roster, that is once again being unveiled just 24 hours before the start of the festival, is John Hillcoat’s “The Road” starring Viggo Mortensen. The actor will be honored with a tribute at this year’s festival and will be joined at the event by Hillcoat and co-star Kodi Smit-McPhee. Also set to be honored are actress Anouk Aimee and filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta, whose latest film, “Vision,” will be screened.

Other new films, making festival debuts include Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”; Anne Fontaine’s look at the fashion icon, “Coco Before Chanel,” starring Audrey Tatou; Christian Carion’s spy story, “Farewell”; Todd Solondz’s “Happiness” sequel, “Life During Wartime”; and the Red Riding Trilogy featuring films adapted from four novels and directed by Julian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker. Calling the films, “one of the most ambitious works of 2009 or any other recent year,” in festival notes, David Thomson praised, “Anyone caught in the creeping infection of these films will recognize a tragic achievement that surpasses that of ‘The Godfather’.”

At least two, and maybe three, surprise sneak previews are on tap for this weekend, according to organizers (One of the sneaks is rumored to be Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air”). Additionally, there are a number of films from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner “The White Ribbon,” Jacques Audiard’s runner-up “A Prophet,” Jane Campion’s “Bright Star,” Andrea Arnold’s Cannes jury prize-winner “Fish Tank,” Marco Bellocchio’s “Vincere,” and Camera d’Or winner “Samson & Delilah” by Warwick Thornton.

The annual festival always offers a mix of old and new. Among the classics and repertory films slated for this year’s Telluride Film Festival are silent films and restored works. Marcel L’Herbier’s “L’Argent,” a French silent film from 1928, is described by the festival as, “an appropriate commentary to Wall Street crisis and global economic storm.” The screening will feature a new score performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

“This is a discovery that we are going to be hearing about for years to come,” touted festival managing director Julie Huntsinger, in a conversation with indieWIRE.

Bernhard Wicki’s 1961 German film, “Miracle of Malachias,” is another work that organizers are excited to introduce to audiences, calling it, “something of a miracle.” It’s described as the story of, “a well-meaning priest who causes a louche nightclub to be transported onto a chunk of rock in the North Sea, where it naturally becomes a trendy sensation.”

The festival will also present a number of documentaries, for free in the Backlot screening room, showcasing behind-the-scenes films and biographies of filmmakers and musicians.

Telluride’s organizers feel that it’s as important at a film festival to offer classics and repertory cinema as it is to debut new work. “For those of us who love movies,” explained festival director Gary Meyer, in a conversation with indieWIRE recently, “I don’t think that our world is limited to new movies. We often relate something we see to our past moviegoing experiences.”

An event that is revered by its fans, many of whom return year after year for the intimate festival, Telluride remains a stalwart supporter of cinema and its artistic value, presenting films and pushing an agenda of preservation and celebrating the big screen experience.

“People have a hard time seeing cinema as art,” agreed Julie Huntsinger, “I contend, and I think we all share the idea, that cinema is an art and there is a canon [that] audiences need to know what preceded the films that are out there.”

Among the other special events is a screening of Jean Renoir’s “Toni” along with a panel discussion about the late film critic Manny Faber, featuring panelists Greil Marcus, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Kent Jones, Robert Polito, Robert Walsh and Patricia Patterson.

Organizers faced financial challenges putting together this year’s festival, dealing with a drop in corporate sponsorship, but with the support of AMPAS and backing from patrons, they said they were able to maintain the quality of their event without having to cut corners. The drop in sponsorship also freed up a number of festival passes for sale, giving more people the ability to attend this year, Meyer and Huntsinger said. They added that there will be even more filmmaker guests than in recent years.

The Telluride Film Festival begins tomorrow and will continue through Monday in Colorado. Eugene Hernandez will be covering the festival all weekend for indieWIRE and Anne Thompson will be reporting for her Thompson on Hollywood site. Please check back all weekend for ongoing coverage.

— The full Telluride Film Festival lineup is available on the next page —

The complete Telluride Film Festival lineup:

A scene from Todd Solondz ‘s ‘Life During Wartime.’ Image courtesy of the Telluride Film Festival.

New Films and Backlot

A Prophet,” directed by Jacques Audiard
An Education,” directed by Lone Scherfig
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” directed by Werner Herzog
Bright Star,” directed by Jane Campion
Coco Before Chanel,” directed by Anne Fontaine
Farewell,” directed by Christian Carion
Fish Tank,” directed by Andrea Arnold
Gigante,” directed by Adrian Biniez
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno,” directed by Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea
The Jazz Baroness,” directed by Hannah Rothschild
The Last Station,” directed by Michael Hoffman
Life During Wartime,” directed by Todd Solondz
London River,” directed by Rachid Bouchareb
The Miscreants of Taliwood,” directed by George Gittoes
Red Riding: 1974,” directed by Julian Jarrold
Red Riding: 1980,” directed by James Marsh
Red Riding: 1983,” directed by Anand Tucker
The Road,” directed by John Hillcoat
Room and a Half,” directed by Andrey Khrzhanovsky
Samson,” directed by Warwick Thornton
Sleep Furiously,” directed by Gideon Koppel
Terra Madre,” directed by Ermanno Olmi
Vincere,” directed by Marco Bellocchio
Vision,” directed by Margarethe von Trotta
The White Ribbon,” directed by Michael Haneke
Window,” directed by Buddhadeb Dasgupta

Backlot Documentaries

14-18: The Noise and the Fury,” directed by Jean-Francois Delassus
Against the Grain: The Film Legend of Bernhard Wicki,” directed by Elisabeth Endriss-Wicki
Cool + 1959: The Year That Changed Jazz Forever,” directed by Anthony Hall and Paul Bernays
Charlie Haden: Rambling Boy,” directed by Reto Carduff
Disco and Atomic War,” directed by Jaak Kilmi
It Came from Kuchar,” directed by Jennifer Kroot
The Making of Samson & Delilah,” directed by Beck Cole
Veit Harlan: In the Shadow of Jud Suess,” directed by Felix Moeller
Waking Sleeping Beauty,” directed by Don Hahn
We Who Lived ‘La Dolce Vita’,” directed by Gianfranco Mingozzi

Classics/Repertory

The Breaking Point,” directed by Michael Curtiz
Daisan no Kagemusha: The Third Shadow Warrior,” directed by Inoue Umetsugu
Day of the Outlaw,” directed by Andre De Toth (with “Rain,” directed by Stelios Roccos and James Burroughs)
El Verdugo,” directed by Luis Garcia Berlanga
L’Argent,” directed by Marcel L’Herbier
La Ragazze di Piazza di Spagna,” directed by Luciano Emmer
Les Nouveaux Messieurs,” directed by Jacques Feyder (with “Monkey’s Moon,” directed by Kenneth Macpherson)
Lola,” directed by Jacques Demy
Make Way for Tomorrow,” directed by Leo McCarey (with “The Perils of Priscilla,” directed by Carroll Ballard)
Miracle of Malachias,” directed by Bernhard Wicki
Toni,” directed by Jean Renoir

Short Films

Cake Countdown,” directed by PES
Carpet Kingdom,” directed by Michael Rochford
Cultures of Resistance–Battle for the Xingu,” directed by Iara Lee
The Darkness of Day,” directed by Jay Rosenblatt
David Lynch Presents Interview Project,” directed by Jason S. and Austin Lynch
The Delian Mode,” directed by Kara Blake
The Door,” directed by Juanita Wilson
Firstborn,” directed by Etienne Kallos
Hulahoop Soundings,” directed by Edwin
Kid,” directed by Tom Green
The Kinda Sutra,” directed by Jessica Yu
The Last Mermaids,” directed by Liz Chae
The Last Truck: The Closing of a GM Plant,” directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Leonardo,” directed by Jim Capobianco
Martina y la Luna,” directed by Javier Loarte
Party,” directed by Dalibor Matani
The Solitary Life of Cranes,” by Eva Weber.

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