The Telluride Film Festival has announced its 2017 lineup. As usual, the exclusive Colorado gathering features a range of buzzy fall season movies, including many films also premiering in Venice and Toronto as well as others resurfacing from earlier in the year, just in time for awards season. Filmmakers in this year’s program range from Alexander Payne to Angelina Jolie. The festival will also honor cinematographer Ed Lachman, actor Christian Bale, and screen a new cut of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 Harlem musical “The Cotton Club.”
One of the bigger films to make the cut in this year’s lineup should take no one by surprise: “Downsizing” (12/22, Paramount), Payne’s long-gestating near-future workplace satire starring Matt Damon, will screen at the festival where Payne has been a regular for years (both as a filmmaker and audience member). The movie opened the Venice Film Festival earlier this week, and was followed by Guillermo Del Toro’s fantastical “The Shape of Water,” which will also show at Telluride.
This is par for the course, as Telluride has developed a reputation for showcasing many of the highest-profile titles that will go on to build momentum this fall at Toronto and New York during the unfolding awards narrative.
Oscar hopeful Netflix will return to Telluride with a major narrative feature for the first time since it screened “Beasts of No Nation” at the festival in 2015. Angelina Jolie directs “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” her first filmmaking credit since the intimate relationship drama “By the Sea.” The new movie focuses on activist Loung Ung’s memories of surviving the Khmer Rouge dictatorship. Produced by Telluride regular Rithy Panh, it returns Jolie to the serious historical terrain of her first two features, “In the Land of Blood and Honey” and documentary “A Place in Time.” Jolie is expected to attend the festival before moving on to Toronto.
Meanwhile, Netflix competitor Amazon Studios will hit the town one year after its successful showcasing of “Manchester By the Sea” by screening Todd Haynes’ Cannes premiere “Wonderstruck” (10/20), along with a tribute to veteran cinematographer Ed Lachman, who shot the film with a mixture of ‘70s film stock and black-and-white imagery. For his tribute, Lachman will present a 17-minute reel of highlights from his work and engage in a conversation with screenwriter Larry Gross.
Other high-profile Telluride screenings entering the festival with awards buzz include “The Darkest Hour” (11/22, Focus Features), Joe Wright’s Winston Churchill biopic starring Gary Oldman in the lead role, and “Hostiles,” Scott Cooper’s period drama starring Christian Bale as an army captain escorting a dying war chief to tribal lands in 1892, which is seeking distribution.
The film accompanies Bale’s Telluride tributes as he engages in two hourlong conversations before screenings of the film (last year, tributes went to “Arrival” star Amy Adams and Casey Affleck, who went on to win the best actor Oscar for “Manchester By the Sea”).
Other films arriving at Telluride sans distribution include Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed,” which stars Ethan Hawke as a disgruntled priest, and “That Summer,” a documentary from “Black Power Mixtape” director Goran Hugo Olsson. The Swedish filmmaker’s latest work is an assemblage of footage shot by Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas and Peter Beard. It features a host of characters in Montauk over the course of one summer in the ’70s, including “Grey Gardens” subjects “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” famous from the classic Maysles brothers film.
Also among the non-fiction offerings: “Arthur Miller: Writer,” an HBO-produced documentary about the playwright directed by his daughter, Rebecca (also a filmmaker, known for “Maggie’s Plan”). Telluride favorite Barbet Schroeder will screen “The Venerable W.,” a portrait of a Buddhist monk that played at Cannes. Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s battles with his censorious government have been well-documented, but that hasn’t stopped him from directing a documentary of his own. His film “Human Flow,” about the global refugee crisis, will play at the festival. Camilla Magid’s “Land of the Free” explores a range of African American struggles in South Central Los Angeles, while “Love, Cecil” focuses on the British writer and photographer Cecil Beaton.
Two documentary shorts, Netflix’s “Heroine” and “Long Shot,” will screen together in the main program.
Perhaps the highest-profile documentary, however, is the animal activist documentary “Eating Animals,” produced by Natalie Portman, who will attend the festival to present the film.
While those documentary will be a fresh discovery for Telluride audiences, “Faces/Places” (Cohen Media) will come to the festival with plenty of anticipation. Co-directed by JR and Agnes Varda, the movie premiered out of competition at Cannes, bringing fresh attention to French New Wave legend Varda. Other international filmmakers coming back to Telluride include Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasolouf (the subject of a tribute two years ago), whose “Man of Integrity” screened earlier this year at Cannes.
Another Telluride premiere with major name talent is “Battle of the Sexes” (9/22, Fox Searchlight) directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The “Little Miss Sunshine” directors tell the true story of the infamous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (“La La Land” Oscar-winner Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell), with a screenplay by “Slumdog Millionaire” scribe Simon Beaufoy.
At the 2016 Telluride Film Festival, A24 was the big winner, premiering festival favorite “Moonlight” and setting the stage for its surprise best picture win months later. This year, the chic distributor will be premiering two films: “Lady Bird” (11/17) Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut starring Saoirse Ronan as an angst-ridden California high school student keen on escaping to New York, and “Lean on Pete,” a rural coming-of-age story from “Looking” and “45 Years” director Andrew Haigh. (“Lady Bird” will go on to play at Toronto and NYFF, while “Pete” premieres in Venice and is expected to open in 2018.)
As usual, Sony Pictures Classics will bring some of its most promising titles to the festival. These include Berlin’s prize-winning Chilean transgender drama “A Fantastic Woman” and a pair of acclaimed Cannes titles — cowboy drama “The Rider” and Russia’s “Loveless,” a bleak look at Russian society from “Leviathan” director Andrey Zyvaginetsev, about a family reeling from the disappearance of their young son. SPC will also unveil December-May romance “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” featuring Annette Bening in a buzzy performance as fading Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame and Jamie Bell as the young man with whom she unexpectedly falls in love.
SPC co-president Michael Barker will help present the first and ninth episodes of Ken Burns’ upcoming Vietnam series for PBS, which has been scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Burns is another Telluride regular, and he’ll be joined by fellow documentarian Errol Morris, whose six-part Netflix series “Wormwood” will show in its entirety. The series focuses on the bizarre death of CIA agent Frank Olson and the efforts by his adult son to unearth the circumstances of his father’s death.
Burns and Morris have been a part of Telluride’s extended network for years, but they have nothing on Francis Ford Coppola, a longtime Bay Area associate of producer Tom Luddy, who started Telluride with Bill and Stella Pence 43 years ago. Coppola has frequented Telluride over the years, last screening a remastered version of “Apocalypse Now” in its Werner Herzog Theater, and this year will screen an even more ambitious project: an entirely new restoration of his original cut of “The Cotton Club,” his trouble-plagued 1984 portrait of the famed Harlem jazz nightclub starring Richard Gere, Gregory Hines, and Diane Lane, which met an indifferent response at the time. The film is screening in its new version — dubbed “The Cotton Club Encore” — for audiences with the intention of attracting buyers for a new theatrical release.
Despite the attention given to bigger English-language titles, Telluride’s lineup also includes a number of foreign films. In addition to the aforementioned SPC entries, these include two Middle Eastern dramas: “Foxtrot,”Samuel Maoz’s sophomore followup to his tank thriller “Lebanon,” about a couple mourning the death of their son, and Lebanese director Ziad Doueri’s “The Insult” (Cohen Media) the story of Palestinian and Christian men embroiled in a dispute that generates national headlines. “The Other Side of Hope,” which won Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki the best director prize at Berlin in February, will make its U.S. premiere in Colorado.
Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer (“The Act of Killing”) will serve as the festival’s guest curator, screening a diverse range of classics ranging from Werner Herzog’s “Even Dwarves Started Small” to “Night of the Hunter,” “Titicut Follies” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” The festival will present its Special Medallion award to Israel Film Fund’s Katriel Schory.
The full lineup is listed below. Telluride runs September 1 – 4.
“Downsizing” (Alexander Payne)
“Wonderstruck” (Todd Haynes)
Tribute: Ed Lachman
“Hostiles” (Scott Cooper)
Tribute: Christian Bale
“The Shape of Water” (Guillermo del Toro)
“Battle of the Sexes” (Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton)
“Darkest Hour” (Joe Wright)
“Loving Vincent” (Dorota Korbiela, Hugh Welchman)
“Lady Bird” (Greta Gerwig)
“A Fantastic Woman” (Sebastian Lelio)
“A Man of Integrity” (Mohammad Rasoulof)
“Arthur Miller: Writer” (Rebecca Miller)
“The Rider” (Chloe Zhao)
“Faces/Places” (Agnes Varda, JR)
“That Summer” (Goran Hugo Olsson)
“First They Killed My Father” (Angelina Jolie)
“Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” (Paul McGuigan)
“The Other Side of Hope” (Aki Kaurismaki)
“Wormwood” (Errol Morris)
“The Venerable W.”
“Such is Life”
“Eating Animals” (Christopher Dillon Quinn)
“Love, Cecil” (Lisa Immordino Vreeland)
“Tesnota”/”Closeness” (Kantemir Balagov)
“Land of the Free”
“Lean on Pete” (Andrew Haigh)
“First Reformed” (Paul Schrader)
“Loveless” (Andrey Zyvaginetsev)
“Foxtrot” (Samuel Maoz)
“The Insult” (Ziad Douieri)
“Cinema Through the Eye of Magnum” (Sophie Bassaler)
“Filmworker” (Tony Zierra)
“Hitler’s Hollywood” (Rüdiger Suchsland)
“Jamaica Man” (Michael Weatherly)