A Breath of Fresh Mountain Air - Returning to the Telluride Film Fest
by Alex Billington
September 1, 2016
It's nice to be back. Up in the mountains, ready to see more films and see what many talented filmmakers have in store for us. I have returned to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado for my 9th year in a row, covering this festival with just as much enthusiasm as the first time I went (back in 2008). This film festival takes place an altitude of 8,750 ft (2,667 m), in a tiny little charming town nestled deep inside the San Juan mountains. It's such a beautiful location, the kind where you can see the stars, where everyone around you is always saying "isn't it so beautiful?", where it's easy to get a breath of fresh air, and where you must truly appreciate the place you at. I'm glad to be back, and I'm ready to start watching films. Let's begin the show.
As I walk around the town again this year, which I've come to know so well, things have changed over the years I've been going. The great local coffee shop where I used to write reviews is gone, and there's nothing there. The nearest dispensary is just across the street, thriving as usual. There's new restaurants, but most of the same old shops selling trinkets and clothing and artwork and other things are still there. I can't bring back anything from the past, so better just enjoy and appreciate what we have - including a new tiny coffee shop called Ghost Town Coffee right on the main street - Colorado Ave. This is what makes a film festival so fun - the atmosphere, the experience if actually being here, to gather, watch films and celebrate storytelling.
The line-up for Telluride this year might actually be one of their best yet, based on first impressions from the selection. There's quite a few films I'm very excited to see this year: Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, Damien Chazelle's La La Land, Barry Jenkins' Moonlight, Ben Younger's Bleed for This, Werner Herzog's doc Into the Inferno, Aisling Walsh's Maudie, Clint Eastwood's Sully, Robin Swicord's Wakefield, Joseph Cedar's Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, and Benedict Andrews' Una. Aside from those and other surprises, they're also playing some stand out films from other festivals like: Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea, Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come, Pablo Larraín's Neruda, Cristian Mungiu's Graduation, and Gianfranco Rosi's Fire at Sea, which just won Berlinale.
For the full list of films playing at the 43rd edition of this fest, head to the Telluride Film Festival website. As always, I hope to come across something that really blows me away that I didn't know much about before, whether it be a documentary or foreign film I ended up catching. I'm also planning to see Maren Ade's Toni Erdmann, which I missed seeing at Cannes this year and everyone has been raving about it. Overall, I'm just happy to be back here, I'm excited to get into the films and start discussing them with all my friends and colleagues. There's already buzz about a few of them that just premiered at the Venice Film Festival, but I'm here instead, back up in the mountains, breathing this fresh air and patiently waiting for my first screening Friday afternoon and more in the evening. I'll be posting my thoughts on the films soon.
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 2016 coverage/reviews here on FS.net in this category, as well as on twitter as @firstshowing, where I'll be posting my reactions and updates. Excited to start watching.