DAILY NEWS: Report from Telluride; Kael and Salaway Remembered
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE, with a report from Jean Tang
>> ON THE SCENE: "Amelie," "No Man's Land" and "Backbone" Dominate Telluride 2001
(indieWIRE/08.20.01) -- (indieWIRE/09.04.01) -- The 28th Telluride Film Festival program was one of its most international, according to festival staff. Despite its emphasis on official themes like classic Indian films, music, and American nostalgia, the strongest hype during the four-day, non-competitive showcase this
weekend, which doesn't announce its line-up until day one, centered on a
trio of European features, with Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Amelie" far and away
the festival favorite.
"Amelie," to be released later this year by Miramax, is a fantasy about a
pretty young meddler (Audrey Tautou) anonymously dispensing justice to
neighbors and co-workers until she musters the courage to apply equivalent
verve to her own life. True to form, Jeunet ("Delicatessen," "The City of
Lost Children") railroads his endlessly imaginative presentation through an
urban landscape practically obscene with color and splendor.
Danis Tanovic's "No Man's Land," coming soon from UA (winner of the top
screenwriting prize at Cannes this year) also captured enormous popularity
as a black comedy zeroing in on the futility of war, along with Guillermo
Del Toro's "The Devil"s Backbone" (Sony Pictures Classics). The film is a
beautifully-shot ghost story set in an orphanage during the Spanish civil
Other films with strong buzz included: "The Fast Runner," newcomer Zacharias
Kunuk's picturesque Inuit fable which won this year's Camera d'Or at Cannes,
Ray Lawrence's finely nuanced middle-aged ensemble piece, "Lantana," Lone
Scherfig"s "Italian for Beginners," and Bille August's "Song for Martin,"
about a woman's enduring love for her husband, a composer/conductor
succumbing to Alzheimer's. Faye Dunaway's directorial debut short, "The
Yellow Bird," based on a Tennessee Williams story, garnered some attention
with Brenda Blethyn and James Coburn in farcical leading roles.
Surprise sneak previews confounded audiences with intriguingly complicated
plotlines. Fabian Bielinsky's "Nine Queens," purchased prior by Sony
Classics, a con job a la David Mamet, was the lesser offender, whereas many
who saw David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," a Universal Focus acquisition,
surmised that it just isn't supposed to make sense. Still, both films were
Salman Rushdie was this year's unlikely choice of guest director, selecting
his favorite childhood Indian films ("The Golden Fortress," "Shree 420," and
a specially-created anthology of films by Mehboob Khan) for one program. For
another he selecected editions of science fiction classics like Fritz Lang"s
"Metropolis" and Jean-Luc Godard"s "Alphaville."
Meanwhile, audiences eagerly piled in for the 1928 silent film "Speedy,"
accompanied to razor-sharp precision by the Alloy Orchestra (a portion of
"Speedy" star Harold Lloyd's collection of signed celebrity photographs
served as a popular side exhibit). Documentaries like "Drive-in Movie
Memories," "Walt" (an authorized biography of Disney), "The Great
Nickelodeon Show" (about vintage cinema), and "Grateful Dawg" (about the
lifelong musical collaboration between Jerry Garcia and David Grisman)
continued the nostalgia theme. Music also served as a common motif, with
Milos Forman's new cut of "Amadeus," Mark Kidel"s documentary about
legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar, and a live performance by percussionist
and Indian fusion artist Zakir Hussain.
The festival dedicated well-attended tributes to Indian actor Om Puri and
European directors Catherine Breillat and Ken Russell. And HBO picked up the
silver medallion, sidelining its honor with the premiere of three new
documentaries set for fall broadcast, including the quirky "The Young and
Despite its reputation as an expensive endeavor, Telluride is a down-home
festival, populated with sprawling families, repeat festival-goers (one
grinning attendee was logging her 17th trip), hikers, campers, and other
vacationers happy to relax in the trademark casual atmosphere.
Festival officials said attendance remained consistent with years past:
approximately 2,000 passholders, a whopping 500 staff, and remaining guests
for a total of 3,500 attendees (rumor has it the weekend-long festival
provides a quarter of Telluride's annual revenues). The addition of a
500-seat elementary school gymnasium this year meant smoother queues and the
virtual elimination of previous years' seat shortage. The new Galaxy Theater
was thoughtfully equipped with leotard-clad women in an alcove behind a mesh
screen, dancing in slow motion to the "galaxy" music playing in the
background. Now, that's entertainment. [Jean Tang]
>> Film Critic Pauline Kael Dead at 82
(indieWIRE/08.20.01) -- (indieWIRE/09.04.01) -- Honored in today's New York Times as "probably the most influential film critic of her time," Pauline Kael died over the
weekend at the age of 82. Best known for her work as the critic for The New
Yorker, Kael previously served as a critic at Life magazine, McCall's and
The New Republic. She also published several books that collected her
reviews and essays on movies.
Kael was born in Petaluma, CA and studied philosophy at Berkeley from 1936 -
1940. She moved to New York City in 1965 and joined The New Yorker in 1968,
where she worked until 1991, leaving the publication for a short time to
work for Paramount Pictures in Hollywood. She died in Great Barrington, MA.
"I try not to be rough on small films," Kael is quoted as saying, in today's
New York Times obituary. "Generally, when I'm really rough, it's on
something that I know is going to be a big hit, and that everybody is going
to go for it, and I think it's an atrocity