The Telluride Film Festival has announced its lineup for the 2016 edition, which begins Friday. As usual, the exclusive Labor Day weekend gathering of industry insiders and midwestern movie buffs will offer a sneak peak at highly anticipated fall films, including several awards season hopefuls, alongside several favorites from the festival circuit, smaller discoveries and classic films.
Damien Chazelle’s vibrant ode to musicals of the past, “La La Land,” will head to Telluride fresh from the Lionsgate release’s successful opening night slot at the Venice Film Festival, while another Venice premiere, Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi “Arrival,” comes to Telluride courtesy of Paramount alongside a special tribute to star Amy Adams. Another tributee, Casey Affleck, will be in town with Sundance hit “Manchester By the Sea,” which Amazon famously acquired at the Park City gathering for a hefty price tag.
One of the bigger premieres is “Bleed for This,” a look at lightweight boxer Vinny Paz that stars Miles Teller that will next screen at TIFF. But at least one major title in the Telluride lineup isn’t booked at other major festivals: Warner Bros.-produced “Sully,” director Clint Eastwood’s take on the story of Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot of the plane that famously crash-landed in the Hudson.
Anticipating accusations that the festival selected the film because of its friendly relationship with producer Frank Marshall, festival co-director Julie Huntsinger said the decision to screen “Sully” was the result of purer motives. “We love Frank, but this movie is in our festival on its own merits,” she said. “It’s a nail-biter even though you know what’s going to happen.”
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While “Sully” promises high-stakes drama, Huntsinger said that she and Telluride Film Festival founder Tom Luddy realized they had selected more films on the lighter side this year.
“There a couple of downright cheerful films,” she said, singling out not only “La La Land” (which she praised for its “dreamy reverie”), but also lower-profile fare like “Lost in Paris,” a comedy co-starring French legend Emmanuelle Riva that was recently acquired for U.S. distribution by Oscilloscope Laboratories. “It’s got the old school physical comedy of the Charlie Chaplin variety,” Huntsinger said, adding that it was “a real belly-laugh film.” She also sang the praises of “Through the Wall,” a humorous tale of an arranged marriage from Israeli director Rama Burshteyn. “It’s a comedy that’s also a meditation on love,” Huntsinger added.
Still, one of the more intriguing Telluride premieres that will arrive with much anticipation is anything but a comedy. “Moonlight,” the story of an alienated African American boy that stretches across three decades, marks the first feature from director Barry Jenkins since 2008’s “Medicine for Melancholy.” Jenkins is also a longtime staffer at the festival. “That’s going to be a really special Telluride moment,” Huntsinger said of the premiere.
Bryan Cranston will come to Telluride as the star of “Wakefield,” the tale of a man who begins to spy on his wife (Jennifer Garner) directed by veteran screenwriter Robin Swicord. “Cranston is so good in this,” Huntsinger said. “He deserves a great deal of acclaim for this. It’s such a smart film.”
Other notable names in the lineup include Errol Morris, who will present his new documentary “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography,” a look at the veteran of large-format Polaroid snapshots, many of which will also be displayed at the festival. (Huntsinger called the film “charming.”) Another notable documentarian in the lineup is Telluride regular Werner Herzog, whose “Into the Inferno” provides a survey of volcanoes around the world and efforts to prevent their destructive impact (Herzog, who has a theater named after him at Telluride, co-directed the project with volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer).
Netflix will also cast its lot at the festival with “The Ivory Game,” a globe-spanning look at the battle to stop the poaching of elephants in Africa, in addition to a short film from the director of “Virunga” called “The White Helmets,” which profiles rescue attempts following bombing attacks in Syria. Tom Hanks will stick around for a documentary as well, making a Q&A appearance for “California Typewriter,” a filmic essay by Doug Nichol about people who still use the antiquated tool.
There will be plenty of foreign films at the festival, including several jockeying for awards season attention, such as Cannes favorite “Toni Erdmann” and Mia Hansen-Love’s “Things to Come,” which stars Isabelle Huppert in one of two anticipated fall movie performances (the other is in Paul Verhoeven’s rape-revenge story “Elle,” not playing at Telluride). German director Volker Schlondorff will serve as guest director at the festival and screen several of his favorite films.
Even as Telluride crams a lot of films into four days, it has a reputation for secretly including more in its mysterious “TBA” slots. But Huntsinger insisted that won’t be the case this time. “We reserve the right to surprise people and do a sneak in the future,” she said. “Some of that has been an effort to show bigger things we knew were going elsewhere and we wanted to make sure they could call it whatever they wanted,” she added, referring to the venerated “premiere” status.
But Telluride still doesn’t refer to any of its films with that term. “Let’s all be pro-cinema and allow these films to be talked about without any reference to where they’ve been seen,” Huntsinger said. “When you treat films that way, it’s really just a celebration of cinema.”
The full Telluride Film Festival lineup is below.
“Arrival” (Denis Villeneuve)
“The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography” (Errol Morris)
“Bleed for This” (Ben Younger)
“Bright Lights” (Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens)
“California Typewriter” (Doug Nichol)
“Chasing Trane” (John Scheinfeld)
“The Eagle Huntress” (Otto Bell)
“The End of Eden” (Angus Macqueen)
“A Fanatic Heart — Bob Geldof on WB Yeats” (Gerry Hoban)
“Finding Oscar” (Ryan Suffern)
“Fire at Sea” (Gianfranco Rosi)
“Frantz” (François Ozon)
“Gentleman Rissient” (Benoît Jacquot, Guy Séligmann and Pascal Merigeau)
“Into the Inferno” (Werner Herzog)
“The Ivory Game” (Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson)
“Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind the Clown” (Gregory Monro)
“La La Land” (Damien Chazelle)
“Lost in Paris” (Dominique Abel & Fiona Gordon)
“Manchester by the Sea” (Kenneth Lonergan)
“Maudie” (Aisling Walsh)
“Men: A Love Story” (Mimi Chakarova)
“Moonlight” (Barry Jenkins)
“My Journey Through French Cinema” (Bertrand Tavernier)
“Neruda” (Pablo Larraín)
“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” (Joseph Cedar)
“Sully” (Clint Eastwood)
“Things to Come” (Mia Hansen-Løve)
“Through the Wall” (Assaf Amir)
“Toni Erdmann” (Maren Ade)
“Una” (Benedict Andrews)
“Wakefield” (Robin Swicord)
“The Marseilles Trilogy: “Marius,” Fanny” and “César” (Marcel Pagnol)
“Variety” (Ewald André Dupont)
Guest Director selections:
“The Barefoot Contessa” (Joseph Mankiewicz)
“The Fire Within” (Louis Malle)
“I Was Nineteen” (Konrad Wolf)
“It Was the Month of May” (Marlen Khutsiev)
“Les Enfants Terribles” (Jean-Pierre Melville)
“Spies” (Fritz Lang)