After gawking at the wonders of nature — the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, the Valley of the Gods, and Monument Valley — and no moving images, I was more than ready to immerse myself in celluloid once again. Once I arrived in town, I found myself wishing I’d thrown that Criterion boxed set of Sacha Guitry into my luggage. I’m not the Telluride regular I wish I was – the person that always seems to be next to me in the line-up that has been to every SHOW since 1974 – but I seem to remember that, even a few years ago, I never knew a thing until the little catalogues were passed out on Friday morning.
This year I get the Press Release at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning in my email inbox, and within seconds, it seems, there are links all over Facebook. I’m overwhelmed by the riches of the line-up. As usual, there are too many films, too little time, even as you imagine seeing everything.
I’ve seen Haneke’s Palme d’Or-winning “Amour,” Christian Petzold’s “Barbara,” Ulrich Seidl’s “Paradise: Love,” Marco Tullio Giordana’s “Piazza Fontana,” all of which I can recommend without cavil, as well as the riveting documentary about an Indian archivist, “Celluloid Man: A Film on P.K. Nair,” and Xavier Giannoli’s “Superstar,” which I wrote about for the program book and the Telluride Watch.
TOH has covered the line-up of the new narrative features; among the documentaries are Sarah Polley's “Stories We Tell,” about her discovery that she’s the product of an affair (which is not revealed in David Thomson’s program note, but is all over the internet). The prolific Ken Burns is back with “The Central Park Five,” about the five black teenagers accused of the rape of a white investment banker jogging in Central Park in 1989. Liz Garbus has enlisted a starry lineup of Hollywood actresses to read excerpts from Monroe’s diaries in “Love, Marilyn.” And I would happily spend all day in the tiny 50-seat Backlot theater, whose lineup is devoted to a dozen documentaries about moviemakers, artists, and musicians.
At first I think Geoff Dyer, the Guest Director and my favorite non-fiction writer currently writing, has made it too easy on me by programming films I’ve already seen, except for Joanna Hogg’s 2007 “Unrelated,” which I’ve never heard of; but in point of fact, I really want to hear his introductions to Tarkovsky’s “Stalker,” (the subject of Dyer’s new book “Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room”), Claire Denis’s “Beau Travail,” Lukas Moodyson’s “Together,” “Baraka,” (especially in light of the imminent release Ron Fricke’s new “Samsara”), and two Werner Herzog docs, “Lessons of Darkness” and “The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner.”
And all this needs must be fitted in around such only-in-Telluride screenings as the 1929 “The Marvelous Life of Joan of Arc,” with live accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra; Raymond Griffith’s 1926 “Hands Up!,” with live accompaniment by Donald Sosin; “I Knew Her Well,” a rediscovered Italian film from 1965 starring Stefania Sandrelli by a director unknown to me, Antonio Pietrangeli; Serge Bromberg’s potpourri of film clips, “Retour du Flamme,” which he accompanies with charming anecdotes and his own piano-playing. More essential viewing will be revealed to me as I dig deeper in the catalogue and talk to other filmgoers.