By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire August 31, 2006 at 7:0AM
A trio of anticipated biographical portraits are among the new films that will be seen for the first time this weekend at the intimate Telluride Film Festival in Colorado. In keeping with tradition, this afternoon the organizers of the annual Telluride fest unveiled the lineup for the 2006 event as filmmakers, industry insiders, and film buffs made their way to the small mountain town for this weekend's event. Fewer than two dozen new feature films will screen alongside a selection of classic and rarely seen cinema during the small mountain town festival, kicking off Friday evening and continuing through Monday (September 1 - 4, 2006). Among the anxiously awaited new features to be seen for the first time are Steven Shainberg's "Fur" starring Nicole Kidman as photographer Diane Arbus, Kevin Macdonald's "The Last King of Scotland" featuring Forest Whitaker as the notorious Idi Amin, and "Infamous," director Douglas McGrath's take on the accomplished American author Truman Capote, starring Toby Jones.
Also set to debut this weekend in Telluride, according to organizers, are Todd Field's "Little Children" with Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, and Patrick Wilson; Roger Michell's "Venus" with Peter O'Toole and Leslie Phillips; Asger Leth's documentary about Haiti, "Ghosts of Cite Soleil"; David Leaf and John Scheinfeld's doc about John Lennon's anti-war activism "The U.S. VS. John Lennon," and Paolo Cherchi Usai's "Passio."
Likening the event to a big dinner party, Telluride Film Festival director Tom Luddy, who co-founded and runs the event with Bill Pence, along with Stella Pence, said in a conversation with indieWIRE, "We started the fest in Telluride because we couldnt think of a more magical and beautiful place to bring people together."
Actress Penelope Cruz will be honored at the festival, appearing with Pedro Almodovar's acclaimed new film, "Volver." Also recognized will be Australian director Rolf de Heer, at the festival with his new film "Ten Canoes" and award-winning editor Walter Murch, subject of the new documentary, "Murch," which will be seen for the first time at the festival. The Silver Medallion recipient, honoring someone who is not a filmmaker, will be film historian and columnist David Thomson, who will participate in an on-stage conversation with BBC's David Thompson. Thomson, the author, will also be debuting his latest book, a look at the life of Nicole Kidman, star of Steven Shainberg's anticipated "Fur."
French director and theorist J.P. Gorin, now a film instructor, is on board as this year's guest director. A collaborator with Godard in the founding of the Dziga Vertov Group in 1968, Gorin (who attended the first Telluride Film Festival) will present a restored version of Jacques Tati's "Playtime," the Japanese film, "The Emperor's Naked Army Marches On," and three films by Jean Gremillon.
A number of films will have their first North American festival screenings, but for competitive reasons, those involved typically refrain from calling them premieres. From Cannes comes Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu's "Babel," starring Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt and Gael Garcia Bernal; the Cannes Camera d'Or winner "12:08 East Of Bucharest" by Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Poremboiu; Julia Loktev's "Day Night Day Night," and the popular new Australian title, Ray Lawrence's "Jindabyne." Also on tap are Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others," about Cold War East Germany; Andrei Kravchuks' Berlinale winner "The Italian"; Denis Dercourt's "The Page Turner"; Christopher Smith's "Severance" and Rachid Bouchareb's "Indigenes."
Luddy explained, during the conversation with indieWIRE, that he is particularly excited about this weekend's screening of "20,000 Streets Under The Sky," Simon Curtis' BBC series based on novels about the 1930s' life of a pub. Also on tap are Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy's collection of short films, "Civic Life" and Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell's "Deep Water."
"We want people to experience something special and unique that has to do with the past," concluded Luddy, adding, "And where everyone who loves contemporary cinema can see the selection of new films."
For Luddy and Pence, who founded the event in 1972, the festival is an important opportunity to see the classic work. Among the films set to screen this weekend include an updated version of Peter Bogdanovich's "Directed by John Ford," a screening of "The Golden Age of Alexander Korda" with Korda's nephew Michael Korda, an on-stage conversation between Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and Robert Osbourne following a screening of William Wyler's "Dodsworth," a showing of the Australian classic "The Sentimental Bloke" with a live performance of the score, and a return of the Alloy Orchestra with a screening of "Lonesome."
Concluding the conversation with indieWIRE, Luddy explained that he loves to "bring people together in that environment in a place where they can mix, approach the filmmakers and talk." He added, "We feel that in four days (people) live an intense time with film and with other peopel who love film."
[indieWIRE Editor-in-Chief Eugene Hernandez will be covering this weekend's Telluride Film Festival for indieWIRE and is planning to post occasional festival updates on his blog.]