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TELLURIDE ’99: Sellars Unveils Eclectic Telluride ’99 Lineup

TELLURIDE '99: Sellars Unveils Eclectic Telluride '99 Lineup

TELLURIDE '99: Sellars Unveils Eclectic Telluride '99 Lineup

Anthony Kaufman

It’s hard not to fear for your life when arriving in Colorado for the
Telluride Film Festival. Attendees, whether arriving in Telluride or the
neighboring airports of Montrose or Cortez, must face the threat of
death on a 12-seat passenger airplane trembling in the turbulence. But
once you pass through the clouds, land on the ground, and venture into
the majestic valley of this small town 8,900 feet above sea level, the
terror quickly gives way to awe (not to mention shortness of breath).

Surrounded by steep green mountains, Telluride hosts the beginning of
its cinema lovers’ festival today, a wide array of films, events, and
tributes over this labor day weekend. The thunderstorms that were
expected seemed to have passed, Roger Ebert is already visible in his
Telluride jacket, and the town is steadily filling up with stars,
directors, executives, and cinephiles.

To get a taste of the program, consider the two giant out-door
screenings open to the public over the last two nights, a screening of
the visual extravaganza “Koyaanisqatsi” and Werner Herzog’s remake of
Nosferatu.” Not exactly your standard big screen outdoor events.
Herzog, often a fixture at the festival, will also present his latest
documentary “My Best Fiend” about his relationship with actor Klaus
Kinski. The eclectic program, which includes few American pics, some
experimental work, documentaries, obscure foreign titles and over-looked
tributes, may derive from the inventive vision of Guest Director Peter
, the acclaimed theater and opera director. (His one film “The
Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez
” was in black and white, silent, and
breathtaking.) “I’ve been very interested to see how cinema is being
used around the world,” Sellar says in the program. “My favorite
filmmakers create an expansive world, one that invited an extremely wide
range of response and participation.”

Among the more high-profile, even traditional films in the line-up,
David Lynch’s G-rated opus “The Straight Story” kicks off the festival
tonight (Friday). Additionally, actress-director Adrienne Shelly premieres
her sophomore effort, “I’ll Take You There,” a quirky road movie
starring Ally Sheedy and Reg Rogers later on Friday night. Also on hand
for the weekend, James Toback’s controversial “Black and White” about
race and rap, starring Brooke Shields and Robert Downey Jr., along with
a band of real life rappers; Australian comedy “Me Myself I” starring
Rachel Griffiths, which created quite a stir at the Cannes market last
May and was rumored to be bought by Sony Pictures Classics; and Alison
‘s “Jesus’ Son,” an adaptation of Denis Johnson’s short story
collection, offering a name cast, including Billy Crudup as a young man
in transition, with Dennis Hopper, Holly Hunter, Denis Leary, and
up-and-comer Samantha Moreton.

International films also weigh heavily in the program. Acclaimed French
theater and film director Patrice Laconte (“Ridicule”) appears with his latest “The Girl on the Bridge.” Also from
France, Nicole Garcia’s “Place Vendome” — which played at New York’s
Rendez-vous with French Cinema series — stars Catherine Deneuve as a
woman caught in a web of jewel thievery. (Deneuve will be visible at
the festival for a special tribute screening event, as will David Lynch
and composer Philip Glass.)

Beating out its U.S. premiere in New York comes Japanese sensation
Princess Mononoke” from animator Hayao Miyazaki. Also, the American
premiere of Brazilian director Carlos Diegues “Orfeu” will screen (in
advance of its showing in Toronto), which stars Brazilian Reggae star
Toni Garrido as the mythic title character who descends into the Rio
slums to rescue his love. Other foreign films include “Farewell, Home
Sweet Home
,” from Russian director Otar Iosseliani, about a young man
delving into the Parisian streets, Turkish director Yesim Ustaoglu’s
second feature “Journey to the Sun,” and a trio of Asian films
programmed by Sellars who is known for his love of Asian work:
Kwon-Taek’s “The Taebeck Mountains” from Korea, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “Dust
in the Wind
” from Taiwan, and Lino Broka’s “Bona” from the Philippines.

A number of Cannes premieres round out the feature selections: Damien
O’Donnell’s British-Pakistani comedy “East is East,” Raul Ruiz’s “Time
,” also screening at the New York Film Festival, Soren
Kragh-Jacobson’s Dogma 3 film, “Mifune,” and Israeli director Amos
Gitai’s “Kadosh.”

The program also includes a tribute to the BBC with a series of
documentaries, headlined by two new films, “Wisconsin Death Trip,” a
portrait of a crumbling small town from director James Marsh (“The
Burger and the King”) and “The Brian Epstein Story,” a look at the
Beatles’ manager. Another documentary Ilona Ziok’s “Karussel/Children
of the Night
” profiles Kurt Gerron, a controversial German culturati
figure popular from the 1920’s to the rise of Nazism.

Accomplished video artist Bill Viola will screen an excerpt from his work,
called “The Passing” and Nichola Bruce will premiere her text/image
film, “I Could Read the Sky,” based on a photographic book of the same
name by Stephen Pyke and Timothy O’Grady.

The Filmmakers of Tomorrow section, curated by Godfrey Reggio
(“Koyaanisqatsi”), includes a collection of 8 student films. A program
titled Celulloid Dreams will showcase 7 short films, among them
American David Agosto’s “Big Canyon” and another program Great
Expectations will showcase 3 featurettes from aspiring American
directors, among them NYU film grad Enrique Chediak’s “El Rio” and Elle
Travis’ “Broken.”

Special screenings include Eric von Stroheim’s newly restored classic
Greed,” Jacques Becker’s lost masterpiece “Falbalas,” Iranian director
Bahram Beizai’s 1992 film “Travellers” African director David Achkar’s
Allah Tantou,” a midnight showing of the 1973 French farce “La Grande
,” William Wyler’s rarely seen 1929 film “The Shakedown,” esteemed
composer Philip Glass conducting the Kronos Quartet over a restored
version of the 1931 “Dracula” and films from Charlie Chaplin, Buster
Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy will screen in a new venue, the Chuck Jones

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