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‘Ford v Ferrari’ Leaves Telluride Opening Day Crowd Shaken and Stirred

The Telluride Film Festival has a tradition of opening with an anticipated world premiere, and James Mangold's "Ford v Ferrari" did not disappoint.

Watts and Mangold

Fox chief Emma Watts and filmmaker James mangold at the Telluride opening day brunch.

Anne Thompson

The Telluride Film Festival has a tradition of opening up with an anticipated world premiere, and the patron screening of James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari” did not disappoint. Back in 2005, Mangold screened his Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line” here in Colorado, and the film won Reese Witherspoon a Best Actress Academy Award.

“Ford v Ferrari,” which releases November 15, 2019, from Fox/Disney, should yield a slew of awards nominations, including for director James Mangold and co-stars Matt Damon (the five-time nominee has won a screenwriting Academy Award for “Good Will Hunting,” but none for acting) and three-time nominee Christian Bale (who won Supporting Actor for “The Fighter”). How they break down this even two-hander is another Oscar season quandary.

Despite a hefty 152-minute running time (a trend this fall), the bone-rattlingly intense “Ford v Ferrari” is a tight, taut, percussive, and emotional commercial entertainment that puts audiences inside the real-life drama behind race car driver-turned-designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and gifted, tightly wound driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they build a radical, new, tough and fast race car (the GT-40) for Henry Ford II, all in order to beat Enzo Ferrari’s racers at the brutal 24-hour Le Mans race in 1966.

Audiences at the Werner Herzog Theater in Telluride were on the edge of their seats after being put through the wringer with intense racing scenes. Some left the theater in tears.

The film has long been in the works, but production finally took off when James Mangold became attached to the project. Production began in July 2018, with Mangold working from the script by Jez Butterworth John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller. The film also stars Jon Bernthal, Josh Lucas, and Ray McKinnon. Playwright and “Lady Bird” supporting actor Tracy Letts appears as Henry Ford II, while Italian actor Remo Girone takes on the legendary role of Enzo Ferrari.

James Mangold’s below-the-line crew includes a handful of Oscar nominees, from composer Marco Beltrami (“3:10 to Yuma,” “The Hurt Locker”) to cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (“Nebraska), and editor Michael McCusker (“Walk the Line”).

Watch the trailer for “Ford v Ferrari” below, and stay tuned for more analysis from IndieWire out of Telluride throughout the weekend.

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