Telluride Film Festival: Mountain Town Transforms

Lacy LangleyLife

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The Telluride Film festival in Colorado has forced the small mountain town temporarily into a transforms it into a center for the appreciation of the motion picture arts. More than six hundred people—volunteers and paid staff—work before, during and after the festival to make Telluride the film capital of the world this first weekend of September and threaten to steal the thunder from bigger film festivals.

Nine very different movie screening venues are created so that film lovers from Sweden to West Africa to Hollywood can come and watch movies for over three days in optimal conditions—that’s to say in spaces where the sound and picture are nothing less than fantastic.In its 40th year, the Telluride Film Festival has added an extra day and a new site, the 650-seat Werner Herzog, housed in an ice rink at the edge of town and named for the German director who has been a regular presence here for most of the festival’s history.

There are many films that are being buzzed about at this years festival. “Gravity,” which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded, far above the world, brought a shot of pure entertainment to this high-altitude gathering of serious-minded cinephiles. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron from a script he wrote with his son Jonas, the film uses 3D to evoke the feeling of weightlessness experienced by the characters. It also brings some of the wonder and mystery back to cinematic space, inviting comparisons to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001” and Ridley Scott’s “Alien,”.

Another movie about the fight for survival, J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost,” has drawn crowds to Telluride, as have the tributes to the film’s star—and only cast member—Robert Redford. Mr. Redford, playing an unnamed man on a foundering sailboat in the Indian Ocean, utters barely a word in “All Is Lost,” which anchors an allegory of human survival within an intensely practical story of desperate troubleshooting.

While it is considered somewhat silly to speak the word "oscar" in Telluride, the fact is that the last three Best Picture winners (“Argo,” “The Kings Speech” and “The Artist”) were screened to their first North American audiences here. Mr. Redford’s name is already at the top of any list of presumptive best actor nominees, and it is likely to be joined by Chiwetel Ejiofor, the star of Steve McQueen’s “12 Years A Slave,” which arrived in Telluride as a sneak preview.

Lacy Langley
Lacy is a writer from Texas. She likes spending time in the home office, homeschooling her kids, playing the didgeridoo, caring for her chickens (Thelma and Louise), Rolos, Christmas, and Labyrinth.