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Telluride Lands a Rich Program and Key World Premieres Ahead of Toronto

Telluride Lands a Rich Program and Key World Premieres Ahead of Toronto

The Telluride Film Festival program unspooling over Labor Day weekend (August 29 – September 1) is choice, with 25 new features out of 85 feature films, short films and revivals from 28 countries. (Full program below.) Clearly, the festival did not lose the battle with the Toronto Film Festival. Venice got first dibs on the rapturously received “Birdman,” “The Price of Fame,” “The Look of Silence” and “99 Homes.” And Open Road advance-screened its Telluride world premiere, Jon Stewart’s debut film “Rosewater,” for some critics (reviews here), which may not have been their best move. The whole point of a festival is to provide a crucible with audiences and critics and let the chips fall where they may. It’s not like “Rosewater” was going to get lost.
Open Road seems to be taking advantage of the opportunity left by the retreating Focus Features, which does have several fall season entries to pursue for awards consideration (including Laika’s animated “Boxtrolls” and Working Title Stephen Hawkings biopic “The Theory of Everything”), but not as many as the past. Open Road is switching from a strictly wide release policy to a more nurturing one which yielded the summer hit “Chef,” and now they are pushing not only “Rosewater” but “Nightcrawler,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which will debut at TIFF. They also acquired an awards-bait film for 2015, John Hillcoat’s heist thriller “Triple Nine,” starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, and Kate Winslet, produced and financed by Anonymous Content, Sierra/Affinity and Worldview Entertainment.

Clearly, Telluride and New York get extra points in the film community for curating their main selection of 25 or so films, while Toronto books about 200. Roadside Attractions is among the distributors that chose not to take a Cannes film (“Tommy Lee Jones’ western “The Homesman)” to Toronto, but to Telluride instead. That’s because they’re getting a Telluride tribute to star Hilary Swank, who is hoping for a third Oscar win. She’s excellent in the film, which has received mixed reviews. (Last year they also did not take “All is Lost” to Toronto, but went to Telluride and New York, while “Nebraska” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” also played Cannes, Telluride and New York.)  
New York will world premiere Oscar candidates “Gone Girl” and “Inherent Vice.”  While Telluride in effect will world premiere (although they still avoid the nomenclature) “Rosewater,” “Imitation Game,” “Merchants of Doubt,” “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” and “Wild.” There may be a few surprise screenings in the mix as well. (Scorsese New York Review of Books doc “The 50 Year Argument” played Sheffield.)
Other films in Telluride but not Toronto include “Birdman,” “Dancing Arabs,” “Decent One,” “Diplomacy,” “Price of Fame” and “Salt of the Earth.”
Among the world premieres playing both Telluride and Toronto are “The Gate” and “Madame Bovary.”
Notable films at Toronto, but not Telluride are Canadian Jason Reitman’s “Men Women & Children,” who loves to play Telluride but was forced not to this year, Palme d’Or-winner “Winter Sleep” and Julie Taymor’s film version of her staging of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” (Interestingly, after Lionsgate acquired “Maggie,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, they pulled it from the Toronto Special Presentations section.) 

As expected, many of the Telluride titles below played other festivals, including “’71,” which was at Berlin; Cannes debuted Roadside’s “The Homesman” and “Mommy,” IFC’s “Two Days, One Night,” Sony Pictures Classics’ “Mr. Turner,” “Wild Tales,” “Foxcatcher,” “Leviathan” and “Red Army,” and Wim Wenders doc “Salt of the Earth.” 

The 41st Telluride Film Festival’s 25 new feature films in the main program:
·       THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT (d. Martin Scorsese, David Tedeschi, U.K.-U.S., 2014)
·       ’71 (d. Yann Demange, U.K., 2014)
·       99 HOMES (d. Ramin Bahrani, U.S., 2014)
·       BIRDMAN (d. Alejandro González Iñárritu, U.S., 2014)
·       DANCING ARABS (d. Eran Riklis, Israel-Germany-France, 2014)
·       THE DECENT ONE (d. Vanessa Lapa, Australia-Israel-Germany, 2014)
·       DIPLOMACY (d. Volker Schlöndorff, France-Germany, 2014)
·       FOXCATCHER (d. Bennett Miller, U.S., 2014)
·       THE GATE (d. Régis Wargnier, France-Belgium-Cambodia, 2014)
·       THE HOMESMAN (d. Tommy Lee Jones, U.S., 2014)
·       THE IMITATION GAME (d. Morten Tyldum, U.K.-U.S., 2014)
·       LEVIATHAN (d. Andrey Zvgagintsev, Russia, 2014)
·       THE LOOK OF SILENCE (d. Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark-Indonesia-Norway-Finalnd-U.S., 2014)
·       MADAME BOVARY (d. Sophie Barthes, U.K.-Belgium, 2014)
·       MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (d. Robert Kenner, U.S., 2014)
·       MOMMY (d. Xavier Dolan, Canada, 2014)
·       MR. TURNER (d. Mike Leigh, U.K., 2014)
·       THE PRICE OF FAME (d. Xavier Beauvois, France, 2014)
·       RED ARMY (d. Gabe Polsky, U.S.-Russia, 2014)
·       ROSEWATER (d. Jon Stewart, U.S., 2014)
·       THE SALT OF THE EARTH (d. Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Brazil-Italy-France, 2014)
·       TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER (d. Nick Broomfield, U.K.-U.S, 2014)
·       TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (d. Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Belgium-Italy-France, 2014)
·       WILD (d. Jean-Marc Valleé, U.S., 2014)
·       WILD TALES (d. Damián Szifrón, Argentina-Spain, 2014)
See the TFF website for updates.
Telluride’s 2014 Silver Medallion Awards go to Swank and German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff who will present “Diplomacy” as part of the Tribute program as well as his and Billy Wilder’s “Billy, How Did You Do It?” and his 1970 film  “Baal.” Celebrating its 35th Anniversary is a new DCP of the original theatrical cut of Francis Ford Coppola’s  “Apocalypse Now,” which I saw when it first came out. Telluride co-director Tom Luddy is bringing in his Bay Area buddies Coppola and editor-sound designer Walter Murch as well as cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, screenwriter John Milius, and producer-casting director Fred Roos.
Guest Directors Guy Maddin and Kim Morgan delivered the following programo f six films:
·       CALIFORNIA SPLIT (d. Robert Altman, U.S., 1974)
·       IL GRIDO (d. Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1957)
·       M (d. Joseph Losey, U.S., 1951)
·       A MAN’S CASTLE (d. Frank Borzage, U.S., 1933)
·       THE ROAD TO GLORY (d. Howard Hawks, U.S., 1936)
·       WICKED WOMAN (d. Russell Rouse, U.S., 1953)
Additional film revivals include “Children of No Importance,” (d. Gerhard Lamprecht, Germany, 1926) and “Too Much Johnson”  (d. Orson Welles, U.S., 1938) both presented by the Pordenone Silent Film Festival with live accompaniment by Donald Sosin; a collection of short films by Carroll Ballard forming the program, “Caroll Ballard: Seems Like Only Yesterday”; and “Where Eagles Dare,” (d. Brian G. Hutton, U.S., 1968) from a print courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Backlot which features behind-the-scenes movies and portraits of artists, musicians and filmmakers, will screen the following nine programs:

·       BERTOLUCCI ON BERTOLUCCI (d. Walter Fasano, Luca Guadagnino, Italy, 2013)
·       FORBIDDEN FILMS (d. Felix Moeller, Germany, 2014)
·       HOW TO SMELL A ROSE (d. Les Blank, Gina Leibrecht, U.S.-France, 2014)
·       I STOP TIME (d. Gunilla Bresky, Sweden-Russia, 2014)
·       KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON (d. Alan Hicks, U.S., 2014)
·       MAGICIAN (d. Chuck Workman, U.S., 2014)
·       NIGHT WILL FALL (d. André Singer, U.K.-U.S.-Israel, 2014)
·       SEYMOUR (d. Ethan Hawke, U.S., 2014)
·       SOCIALISM (d. Peter von Bagh, Finland, 2014)
This year’s Telluride heroes of cinema (“who preserve, honor and present great movies”) getting the 2014 Special Medallion award are Cineteca di Bologna and Gian Luca Farinelli, “for the significant role played in film restoration and preservation of film culture.” Mario Monicelli’s “Joyful Laughter” from 1960 is in the program.
The many annual festival book signings include Cheryl Strayed (“Wild”), Maziar Bahari (“Then They Came for Me”), Sayed Kashua (“Dancing Arabs”), Werner Herzog (“A Guide for the Perplexed”) Ted Hope (“Hope for Film”) and me (“The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to the Oscars, an Inside Look at the Changing Hollywood System”). Quincy Jones also presents Justin Kauflin in Concert as well as music from the Clark terry documentary “Keep on Keepin’ On.” The Behind the Scenes program presents the filmmakers behind two animated features, Disney’s “Feast” and Pixar’s “Lava.” 
The 41st Telluride Film Festival’s program guide is here.  

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