Another Labor Day Means Another Weekend of New and Classic Cinema in Telluride
by Eugene Hernandez
Maintaining a tradition of secrecy until opening day, organizers of the Telluride Film Festival have unveiled the full lineup for the festival's 31st edition here in Colorado. The roster, a mix of world premieres, international work screening in this country for the first time, and classic cinema, will be screened over the next four days in some 39 programs at theaters throughout the small mountain town.
Among the world premieres set for this weekend are: Todd Solondz' latest, "Palindromes," starring Ellen Barkin in the story of a young runaway; Sally Potter's "Yes," starring Joan Allen; Roger Michell's "Enduring Love;" Lodge Kerrigan's "Keane," about a mentally disturbed homeless man; Istvan Szabo's "Being Julia," based on a Somerset Maughm story, with Annette Bening and Jeremy Irons; and Ken Burns' latest documentary, "Unforgivable Blackness," about boxer Jack Johnson.
Other new documentaries on tap include Michael Tucker & Petra Epperlein's "Gunner Palace," about a U.S. gunner battalion in Iraq, Jacque Richard's "Henri Langlois: Phantom of the Cinematheque," and "A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of Zoetrope."
"This is a festival with a lot of movies that are going to create a discussion," festival co-director Bill Pence told indieWIRE, offering a preview of the program. "Todd Solondz's [film] is more in keeping with the rest of the festival [this year] -- there is some material that will be considered over the top, politically incorrect, adventurous and challenging," Pence said. Continuing he added that like Solondz's new movie, "Sally Potter's film [is] in its own way challenging and will be much discussed -- we like films that people really debate."
Set to be honored in Telluride this year are screenwriter, and frequent Luis Buñuel collaborator, Jean Claude-Carrier, actress Laura Linney -- here in Telluride with two world premiere films, Dylan Kidd's "P.S." and Bill Condon's "Kinsey" -- and Greek master filmmaker Theo Angelopoulos. His film, "Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow," will have its North American debut at the festival this weekend. Producer and casting director Fred Roos will receive the 2004 Special Medallion at the festival, honoring his work in film. Filmmaker, and video director, Michel Gondry will present videos curated by Elvis Mitchell.
Among the North American debuts set for this weekend are: Ousamane Sembene's "Moolaade"; Russian director Marina Razbezhkina's "Harvest Time"; Lenny Abrahamson's "Adam and Paul" from Ireland; Li Shaohong's "Baober in Love" from China; Zhang Yimou's "House of Flying Daggers"' Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Nobody Knows"; Nimrod Antall's "Kontroll"; Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education"; and Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern's "Aaltra" from Belgium.
Paring down a lineup for a festival that this year will offer 39 programs can be a challenge, admitted Bill Pence during the conversation with indieWIRE. "Its tough to say 'no,'" Pence said. He added that when making decisions, "Not only is it what film is [better, but also what film] best fits the balance." Pence said that he and Tom Luddy like to offer a festival program that is "not too grim." On the other hand, he said, "We don't want a festival that is too audience friendly either."
A look at classic cinema is again an important part of Telluride. George Lucas will present a digitally re-mastered version of "THX 1138," and also on tap is Stuart Cooper's 1975 film, "Overlord," a screening of Hitchcock's silent film, "Blackmail," with a new score performed by the Alloy Orchestra, and a showing of Fernando Arrabal's "Viva La Muerte."
This year's Telluride guest director, writer and actor Buck Henry, has selected a number of films for the 2004 festival lineup, including the Danish film, "Hunger," Daryl Duke's "Payday," and "Million $ Legs" featuring W.C. Fields, preceded by a Mack Sennett comedy featuring Buck Henry's mother, Ruth Taylor.
Other special programs this year include outdoor screenings ("The Motorcycle Diaries" was set to screen last night), a series of conversations with filmmakers, screenings of works by emerging filmmakers, and a student symposium that will include educational seminars for students.
"One of the things that is different about Telluride is that the same two people are still with it, it's only a couple of people that make the final decisions," Pence told indieWIRE, admitting that at some point he and Luddy will have to think about moving on. However, such talk is for another day -- for now, they've got a festival that is starting this morning.
[indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez is in Telluride covering the festival, he will publish a few updates from the festival on his blog this weekend (http://blogs.indiewire.com/eug) and a fest report in Tuesday's edition.]