It’s about 7:30 in the morning and I’m sitting in my hotel room in my underwear, trying not to wake up my girlfriend, and thinking about the festival.
After my last post we went to the Feed, basically a big street party for Festival pass holders, with lots of food and free beer. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends, eat a meal that isn’t either popcorn or Raisinets, and get really drunk before the marathon of films begins. Plus the view isn’t bad.
I have to admit that I always feel a little guilty when I come to Telluride. It’s a festival unlike any other. They don’t announce the films until the day before it starts and almost all of the films already have distribution. So there’s no deal-making, almost no commercialization, comparably little schmoozing, and almost no publicists. I know… it sounds like heaven… and it is. But there’s also not much work to do. The Telluride Film Festival is all about the movies. That’s why every year we’ve thrown a filmmaker reception… and why this year we decided to sponsor the Student Symposium… to justify coming here. But I’ve come to the realize that even if we didn’t throw a party or meet with students, this trip would still be worthwhile, because it gives me an opportunity to see some of the most important films in the coming year. And because it’s so casual, you get to meet people in the most relaxed environment possible. I’ve debated the merits of various films while waiting in line for the next one with actors, filmmakers, and industry executives whom I’d otherwise never have an opportunity to meet.
Before I talk about the movies I saw (because I know you all care about my opinion), I’d like to thank Kodak and the Directors Guild of America for co-hosting the Filmmakers Reception, and Actor/Director Todd Field (whose film Little Children is in the festival) for acting as guest host. I don’t know why Todd looks so serious. It might be because I have my hand on his ass.
Below is Jon Larson from the DGA and some of the student filmmakers.
The big surprise of the evening was when legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog dropped by. Here he is with the party hosts (Ericka Fredrickson from Kodak is on the far right).
And now, some of the movies: The first film we saw was one of the best: The Last King of Scotland, the first narrative feature directed by Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void). It’s a really well-made historical drama about the reign of Idi Amin and the best thing about it is Forrest Whitaker’s unbelievable performance as the dictator. I actually forgot I was watching a performance.
I also like Infamous, the second film in two years about Truman Capote’s experience writing In Cold Blood. I actually liked this version (directed by Douglas McGrath) better than last year’s. As far as the plots are concerned, the films are almost identical, but there is one major variation, the filmmakers’ point-of-view about the subject… and for me it made all the difference.
I thought Fur was interesting (Meg thought is was boring), but it was by far my least favorite film of the festival. The Berlin Festival winner The Italian was good… but I was a little surprised (and put off) by its "Hollywood ending."
But my absolute favorite film of the festival, the one that I can’t stop thinking about, is Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu’s Babel. I didn’t see Amores Perros (I don’t go to movies where they kill the dog), I liked 21 Grams, but I LOVED Babel. It’s a powerful and complex story involving terrorism and illegal immigration… but at it’s heart, it’s really a story about human beings trying to communicate and make connections with each other. It’s subtle and heart-breaking. It’s like Crash for smart people.
We’re going to try to see one more film before we leave today. Probably Pedro Almodovar’s Volver (which we’ve heard great things about in the theatre lines).
Yesterday morning we took a break from films and went horseback riding through the mountains. It was beautiful and alot of fun. This is Meg and me (I’m the one in the SAGIndie hat) on Flash and Striker. One of the women in our riding party was an actress who thanked me for working for SAG, and the wrangler, a crusty old cowboy named Roudy, proceeded to tell me how he got Taft-Hartley’d on a Coor’s commercial.