Welcome to the Larry411.com Guest Columnists! April 27, 2013
In my travels to the best film festivals in…
The Telluride Film Festival takes place in Colorado every Labor Day weekend. That much is certain. What is not certain, however, are the films which will be playing there -- at least not until the screenings are about to begin. This is an oddity in the festival world which has no equal. Attendees truly have no idea what movies they'll be seeing until they've already arrived.
Clearly, anyone who makes a decision whether or not to go to an event based on the lineup is left out in the cold. This is one festival where the tickets must be purchased and travel plans made sight unseen. This always ensures a sold-out event as the films are typically World, North American, or US Premieres of films that are high-profile prospects for Oscar season. Attendees know this and rely on faith every year that their investment will pay off as travel plans are made well ahead of time.
The downside over the years, for those of us attending the Toronto International Film Festival, has been that Telluride always take place just prior to TIFF and would often book films that were already "scheduled" as World, International, or North American Premieres in Toronto. This (one might think) would essentially pull the rug out from under TIFF and spoil their premiere status. It did not, however, for several reasons.
First, Telluride can be considered a "private" VIP-only event, which allowed the industry to say that it "didn't count" against TIFF's designations. The rules are restrictive. Unlike other festivals, individual tickets cannot be purchased in advance -- only just prior to the start of a screening. Only passes are sold ahead of time, and the cost can be prohibitive. The area is also hard to reach so transportation and lodging is at a premium. The nature of the festival and expense involved tends to restrict its attendance to industry insiders. More importantly, the films aren't announced until the day before the festival begins, long after most attendees have purchased their passes and arrived onsite. In other words, these can be considered invitation-only secret screenings not open to the general public. In the past, this arrangement did not allow Telluride to steal premiere status for these films so Toronto still got to make those claims. It's a complicated formula but those were the de facto rules.
That all changed this year, or it was supposed to. With great fanfare, TIFF head honcho Cameron Bailey announced new rules, saying that no film could play Toronto as a World, International, or North American Premiere, and/or be booked on the film's opening weekend, if it played elsewhere in North America (read: Telluride) prior to Toronto. As mentioned above, TIFF always just looked the other way, along with the rest of the industry, considering Telluride screenings to be "sneak previews," thereby not affecting their premiere status at TIFF. Based on this rule change, it was assumed that any film wanting to play TIFF this year as a World, International, or North American Premiere, and/or on the film's opening weekend, would bypass Telluride. The idea was that films that wanted to be the center of attention at TIFF would debut in Toronto.
Well, surprise surprise...many films announced for Telluride are playing TIFF after all. The best laid plans...
The bottom line is that films that would normally have been World, International, or North American Premieres at TIFF are still playing there...but now they've been lowered to the status of Canadian Premieres. In the past TIFF would have ignored Telluride and these films would have kept their World, etc. premiere status. The unspoken part of all this is that these films will now have reviews up before they play TIFF. That's what always happened in the past, and is what they were trying to avoid with this rule change.
And, in a way, TIFF's decision backfired. Because now we can't even rationalize saying a film is having its World/International/North American Premiere at TIFF if it played Telluride. Many times I'd been able to report, "Here I am at the World/International/North American Premiere of Bla Bla" even knowing it had already been at Telluride. It was accepted as truth. Now we can't, and it lowers the status/exclusivity/bragging rights at TIFF of every film at Telluride, for the filmmakers and for fans. Ironically, Telluride doesn't even call them "premieres," only "previews." (Here is a terrific article by A.O. Scott in the New York Times which discusses some of the issues surrounding Telluride, TIFF, and festival exclusivity.) It remains to be seen if TIFF rolls back this decision or comes up with a new idea next year.
The 41st edition begins today and runs for four days, August 29-September 1. The complete program guide (PDF) is now available. Here is the list of narrative features and documentaries in Telluride's main program, "The Show," along with the Guest Director Program selections and the Backlot lineup of behind-the-scenes entertainment profiles:
• THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT (d. Martin Scorsese, David Tedeschi, U.K.-U.S., 2014)
• ’71 (d. Yann Demange, U.K., 2014)
• 99 HOMES (d. Ramin Bahrani, U.S., 2014)
• BIRDMAN (d. Alejandro González Iñárritu, U.S., 2014)
• DANCING ARABS (d. Eran Riklis, Israel-Germany-France, 2014)
• THE DECENT ONE (d. Vanessa Lapa, Israel-Austria, 2014)
• DIPLOMACY (d. Volker Schlöndorff, France-Germany, 2014)
• FOXCATCHER (d. Bennett Miller, U.S., 2014)
• THE GATE (d. Régis Wargnier, France-Belgium-Cambodia, 2014)
• THE HOMESMAN (d. Tommy Lee Jones, U.S., 2014)
• THE IMITATION GAME (d. Morten Tyldum, U.K.-U.S., 2014)
• LEVIATHAN (d. Andrey Zvgagintsev, Russia, 2014)
• THE LOOK OF SILENCE (d. Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark-Indonesia-Norway-Finalnd-U.S., 2014)
• MADAME BOVARY (d. Sophie Barthes, U.K.-Belgium, 2014)
• MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (d. Robert Kenner, U.S., 2014)
• MOMMY (d. Xavier Dolan, Canada, 2014)
• MR. TURNER (d. Mike Leigh, U.K., 2014)
• THE PRICE OF FAME (d. Xavier Beauvois, France, 2014)
• RED ARMY (d. Gabe Polsky, U.S.-Russia, 2014)
• ROSEWATER (d. Jon Stewart, U.S., 2014)
• THE SALT OF THE EARTH (d. Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Brazil-Italy-France, 2014)
• TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER (d. Nick Broomfield, U.K.-U.S, 2014)
• TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (d. Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Belgium-Italy-France, 2014)
• WILD (d. Jean-Marc Valleé, U.S., 2014)
• WILD TALES (d. Damián Szifrón, Argentina-Spain, 2014)
Additional Sneak Previews may play outside the main program and will be announced here over the course of the four-day weekend.
The 2014 Silver Medallions, given to recognize an artist’s significant contribution to the world of cinema, go to German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff who will present his latest work DIPLOMACY as part of the Tribute program, his 1992 collaboration with Billy Wilder, BILLY, HOW DID YOU DO IT? and his 1970 film BAAL starring Rainer Werner Fassbinder, both of which will play elsewhere in the program; Two-time Academy award-winning actress Hilary Swank (BOYS DON’T CRY, MILLION DOLLAR BABY) who stars in TFF selection, THE HOMESMAN; and in celebration of its 35th Anniversary, Francis Ford Coppola’s APOCALYPSE NOW – screened from a new DCP of the original theatrical cut - including guests Coppola, screenwriter John Milius, producer-casting director Fred Roos, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and editor-sound designer Walter Murch.
GUEST DIRECTOR PROGRAM -- Guy Maddin and Kim Morgan, who serve as key collaborators in the Festival’s program, present the following six films:
• CALIFORNIA SPLIT (d. Robert Altman, U.S., 1974)
• IL GRIDO (d. Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy, 1957)
• M (d. Joseph Losey, U.S., 1951)
• A MAN’S CASTLE (d. Frank Borzage, U.S., 1933)
• THE ROAD TO GLORY (d. Howard Hawks, U.S., 1936)
• WICKED WOMAN (d. Russell Rouse, U.S., 1953)
Additional film revivals include CHILDREN OF NO IMPORTANCE (d. Gerhard Lamprecht, Germany, 1926) and TOO MUCH JOHNSON (d. Orson Welles, U.S., 1938) both presented by the Pordenone Silent Film Festival with live accompaniment by Donald Sosin; a collection of short films by Carroll Ballard forming the program, CARROLL BALLARD: SEEMS LIKE ONLY YESTERDAY; and WHERE EAGLES DARE (d. Brian G. Hutton, U.S., 1968) from a print courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
BACKLOT PROGRAM -- Telluride’s intimate screening room featuring behind-the-scenes movies and portraits of artists, musicians and filmmakers, will screen the following nine programs:
• BERTOLUCCI ON BERTOLUCCI (d. Walter Fasano, Luca Guadagnino, Italy, 2013)
• FORBIDDEN FILMS (d. Felix Moeller, Germany, 2014)
• HOW TO SMELL A ROSE (d. Les Blank, Gina Leibrecht, U.S.-France, 2014)
• I STOP TIME (d. Gunilla Bresky, Sweden-Russia, 2014)
• KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON (d. Alan Hicks, U.S., 2014)
• MAGICIAN (d. Chuck Workman, U.S., 2014)
• NIGHT WILL FALL (d. André Singer, U.K.-U.S.-Israel, 2014)
• SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION (d. Ethan Hawke, U.S., 2014)
• SOCIALISM (d. Peter von Bagh, Finland, 2014)
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In my travels to the best film festivals in…