Over the Mountains, and Into Telluride We Go - Let's See Some Films
by Alex Billington
August 28, 2014
Over the mountains, and into Telluride. Here we go again. I'm back in Colorado, where I grew up as a kid (I now live in New York City) for my seventh time back to the Telluride Film Festival. The line-up has been unveiled (view the selections in full here), and I can't wait to start watching films. I'm always intrigued by Telluride keeping the line-up a secret until the day before the fest and I was curious how things would shake up with TIFF and Venice complaining about world premieres this time. Why does there have to be so much fighting over what to call a premiere? I'm just here to see good films. Premiere or not, I want to be moved.
The festival this year includes a hefty amount of Cannes holdovers, luckily the best of the bunch including Xavier Dolan's Mommy, Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher and the USSR hockey doc Red Army though not the Palme d'Or winner Winter Sleep, in addition to a fantastic selection of films that I've been impatiently waiting for my chance to screen. Including: Birdman, The Look of Silence, 99 Homes, The Imitation Game, Wild Tales, Rosewater and a few others. I love this festival so much because there's nothing like driving up into these mountains, getting settled for a weekend of cinema, realizing this place is so damn beautiful, and chill, calm, peaceful, and totally happy. It's a place where everyone always smiles, says "hi" to anyone, everyone has a dog, and everyone rides a bike. Sometimes I really feel like I don't want to leave…
Now it's time to kick things off and I am so excited to dive into the line-up and find out what will leave us all in awe. Below is my list of top priorities for Telluride 2014; I won't be able to make it to everything, but I'll try my best to see many of these. One of the fun things about Telluride is their Secret Screenings, which are only revealed the morning of each day. In the past few years, the Best Picture winner at the Oscars has screened like this - as a surprise. Last year it was 12 Years a Slave, the year before it was Argo. Back in 2008 (my first year) it was Slumdog Millionaire. What will be the one we're all talking about in 2014?
For a great primer on the recent awards prestige earned at Telluride, Sasha Stone of Awards Daily explains it perfectly in her piece "A Brief Recent History Telluride and How It’s Become So Influential in the Oscar Race". She boasts about the selection of films here being the key: "They pick good ones. They have good taste. If you add all of these elements up together you can see why Telluride is one of the choice spots for launching a film headed for the Oscar race." My own short list of Telluride priorities for 2014:
Birdman - Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
99 Homes - Directed by Ramin Bahrani
The Imitation Game - Directed by Morten Tyldum
The Look of Silence - Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
Rosewater - Directed by Jon Stewart
Wild Tales - Directed by Damián Szifrón
Tales of the Grim Sleeper - Directed by Nick Broomfield
Wild - Directed by Jean-Marc Valleé
Magician - Directed by Chuck Workman
Seymour: An Introduction - Directed by Ethan Hawke
My coverage begins Friday when the festival kicks off in full. Many of my friends and colleagues from the film world are here, from fellow bloggers to critics and publicists to filmmakers and producers, and I love spending time with them. It might be an interesting experience in Telluride this year as marijuana is legal in Colorado now, for anyone to purchase, and the wafts of pot smoke are ever prevalent (no complaints). I doubt it's allowed near the theaters, but it might be a potent addition to the thin-air of Colorado, especially at an elevation of 8,750 ft. But… let's get the show underway! Fire up the projectors, dim the lights, let's roll.
In addition to reviews, interviews and blog posts about the Telluride Film Festival, I will be covering the fest on both Twitter as @firstshowing and Instagram as @abillington. Spending a weekend in this peaceful, beautiful town and watching movies all day every day is an experience unlike anything else and I do my best to capture that experience in photos and tweets. Here's my photo of the fest banner snapped upon arrival:
You can follow my Telluride Film Festival 2014 coverage/reviews here on FS.net in this category, as well as on twitter as @firstshowing, where I'll be posting my instant reactions and updates. Let it finally begin!