Telluride Film Festival: Part 1 - Surrounded By Mountains

August 31, 2008

Telluride Film Festival

Located at an elevation of 8,750 feet and nestled within the beautiful Rocky Mountains, the small town of Telluride plays host to one of this country's best film fests. This is my first year in attendance at the Telluride Film Festival and it's been an immensely pleasurable experience so far. The film selection isn't the greatest this year, but the atmosphere, the community, the town, the people, and everything about this fest has otherwise been wonderful. Instead of writing daily reports, I'm splitting up my write up on this fest into two pieces, and this is the first. Telluride is a lot like Sundance - set in a charming mountain town - but much smaller and quieter, a different experience that so far I've thoroughly enjoyed.

I'm already two full days into the fest and have only seen a total of four films, one of which was fantastic (Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire). Last year Telluride was the launching grounds for Juno and There Will Be Blood, two of the best films from 2007. This year the selection is a bit skimpy, filled with international films that I'm not overly excited to see and missing strong US debuts. Most of the films I've watched here so far, while definitely well-made, just don't seem like anything that I'm going to end up calling a favorite or remembering for years to come. And that's my concern - that their line-up this year just won't leave any lasting impression, despite they're all solid films. But we've still got two days left…

Telluride GondolaI've been able to quickly look past the mediocre selection and enjoy everything that this fest has to offer. Our hotel is located at the base of the ski resort, and to get into town to catch screenings we take a 15-minute gondola ride over the mountain. When it reaches the top and starts to descend, you get to see a breathtaking view of the town. It's that kind of experience that makes this festival unique, especially when I realize I'm riding this gondola over the mountains to potentially see some of the best movies all year long. Add to that the accessibility of Hollywood talent, like Jeff Goldblum just hanging out at the opening night dinner. If only festivals like Toronto or Cannes could offer such a unique and awe-inspiring experiences as well…

Out of the four films I've seen so far - Kisses, Flame and Citron, O'Horten, and Slumdog Millionaire - only one has stood out. Slumdog Millionaire has been my absolute favorite and may end up being my favorite of this entire fest, with Flame and Citron currently falling in closely behind it as my second favorite. There is still one I'm very excited to see, called The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, and tonight I've got a screening of it. Here's the best part - it's an open air screening, meaning they're projecting the film on a giant screen located at an ourdoor amphitheater, where people gather around and sit underneath the stars to enjoy great cinema. I can't wait to see it! Additionally, I'm off to see a film called Hunger that has had some early Cannes buzz as well, so there are still some hopefuls left.

I'll be chiming in again on Monday night with a final wrap-up on all of our Telluride Film Festival coverage. There are a few more interesting movies to catch and a whole lot of festival to go. I've had a great time so far and expect it to only get better as we finish the last few days. Hopefully you've been able to get a glimpse at what one of this country's best small mountain town festivals is like. See you on the gondola!

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