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Telluride Diary part four: The show (part one)

By September 2, 2012October 11th, 2023No Comments

After two days of “phony war” with even­ing teas­er screen­ings in the Ralph Lauren-funded Elks Park Abel Gance Cinema, Telluride got under way form­ally yes­ter­day with a full slate of screen­ings at all nine venues.

The “unof­fi­cial” pro­gramme – a 90 page news­print guide fea­tur­ing a mostly-there draft of the sched­ule – was made avail­able on Thursday and a press release had announced the names of the three hon­our­ees and the main fea­tures, but there were still a large num­ber of slots marked “TBA” includ­ing almost all of Monday. Even then, we were told not to put too much faith in the unof­fi­cial guide and to wait for the glossy DLE pro­gramme which would be avail­able at Noon on Friday – the first day of the festival!

For an anxious timetable organ­iser such as myself this seemed alto­geth­er too loose but no mat­ter how tightly I attemp­ted to plan my week­end it simply would­n’t come into focus.

Just some of the many souven­irs on offer from Brigadoon, the TFF vis­it­ors’ centre.

This is, of course, the point of Telluride. Don’t plan too much, be open to ideas, listen to people in the lines who have tips and rumours, don’t sweat what you might be miss­ing or you’ll drive your­self bana­nas. I con­tin­ue to find this very dif­fi­cult. They say that Telluride is the most relaxed film fest­iv­al in the world but your cor­res­pond­ent is find­ing it quite stress­ful at times.

After more fine cof­fee from the Steaming Bean, the first plank I was able to cling to was the media ori­ent­a­tion meet­ing at the New Sheridan Hotel. The three co-directors of the fest­iv­al, Julie Huntsinger, Tom Luddy and Gary Meyer, went straight to ques­tions so we could race up the hill to the Chuck Jones’ for a spe­cial unan­nounced media and pat­ron screen­ing of Ben Affleck’s new thrill­er Argo. This was the kind of brief­ing that the NZFF would have been doing six weeks out!


TFF co-directors, Julie Huntsinger and Tom Luddy at the media orientation.

Chuck Jones’ Theater is a con­ver­ted con­ven­tion centre ball­room with interi­or design by the great anim­at­or him­self – walls covered with amus­ing recre­ations of fam­ous paint­ings using the great Warner Bros car­toon char­ac­ters. Jones was a reg­u­lar here at Telluride until he became too frail to travel and this year we are all cel­eb­rat­ing his 100th birth­day. In early years, he designed the fest­iv­al poster and his char­ac­ters adorn the lan­yards of all attendees.

A ban­ner designed by Chuck Jones for a pre­vi­ous TFF.

Argo was briefly intro­duced by Mr Affleck him­self, who told us that we were the first pay­ing cus­tom­ers to actu­ally watch the film: “I know you did­n’t actu­ally pay, but you know what I mean.”

I’ll review it prop­erly when it hits NZ cinemas – don’t want to peak too soon – but suf­fice to say that Argo is one of the most sat­is­fy­ing Hollywood pic­tures in years. It’s a tense geo-political drama which at the same time works as hil­ari­ous Hollywood satire and an against-the-clock thrill­er. Affleck has really hit his straps as a dir­ect­or and the sharp script by Chris Terrio should be receiv­ing some gongs at awards sea­son. That’s an unqual­i­fied “recom­mend” from me.

As I write this, out­side in the park there’s a spe­cial sem­in­ar on the state of the American Indie fea­tur­ing Allessandro Nivola, James Schamus, Greta Gerwig, Laura Linney and Roger Corman. I can hear the muffled sounds but I have to fin­ish this before my next queuing/screening at 1. Fear-of-missing-out indeed.

At 5.30, the fest­iv­al closed off the main street and shouted us all a feed (and drinks for those that par­take). I had assumed that my next ses­sion was at 7.30 (the Roger Corman Tribute) but had­n’t checked the sched­ule again and missed the actu­al begin­ning of the show at 6.45. Even when I’m try­ing to be anal about my sched­ule, I was failing!


Colorado Avenue shut down for the Opening Night Feed.

So, I hung around chat­ting to people until the world première of Hyde Park on Hudson at Elks Park (intro­duced by dir­ect­or Roger Michell, screen­writer Richard Nelson and star Laura Linney) until it was time for me to head towards the Galaxy for the world première of Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

This turned out to be a dis­ap­point­ment – too long, too faith­ful to Rushdie’s nov­el and his prose. Two hours twenty felt like three hours twenty and nar­rat­ive themes that might work in a nov­el did­n’t carry their own weight on screen.

The Galaxy, though, is amaz­ing – an Elementary School gym­nas­i­um turned into a state-of-the-art DCP cinema with sta­di­um seat­ing. A mag­ni­fi­cent achievement.


The Galaxy Theater in Telluride. Don’t go look­ing for it, it does­n’t exist any more.

And that was Day One. A forty minute com­mute back to my accom­mod­a­tion and bed by 1am. Set the alarm for 6.45 so I can get to the second of the Corman trib­ute ses­sions – its just like home.

[Apologies for the lack of links – writ­ing this on an iPhone, leech­ing wifi from the Steaming Bean, and I don’t have much fin­esse available.]