What Will Show at Telluride

 

The annual speculation over what films will vault to the front of the awards-season race always begins with speculation over what's going to be shown at the Telluride Film Festival during Labor Day weekend. Whether Telluride directors Tom Luddy, Gary Meyer and Julie Huntsinger court this status or not, their track record of unveiling such films as Brokeback Mountain, Slumdog Millionaire, The King's Speech and, last year, The Descendants and the North American premiere of The Artist is such that industry scrutiny is unavoidable and now a vital part of the awards game.

But Telluride famously does not announce its lineup in advance; attendees either learn what's playing when they arrive or, if they're taking the LAX-Montrose charter, sometimes find the program guide waiting for them on the seats of the plane. The gamble is always worth it.

Reliably, a half-dozen or so films from Cannes will turn up in Telluride, and, based on the festival's allegiance to certain directors, one might assume that two of them will be Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or-winning Amour and Jacques Audiard's Rust & Bone. The appearances of such veterans as Alain Resnais and Abbas Kiarostami with their respective Cannes entries, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet and Like Someone in Love, probably will be determined by their ability to travel, while Walter Salles' On the Road has a link via its executive producer and festival favorite Francis Ford Coppola.

Telluride almost always shares one or two high-profile titles with the overlapping Venice Film Festival. Five already announced Venice entries that might prove tempting for Telluride are Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, Olivier Assayas' Something in the Air, Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Ramin Bahrani's At Any Price. Terrence Malick's To the Wonder seems unlikely given that Telluride always wants directors to appear with their films and Malick probably wouldn't show; he's never been there.

Then there are the high-profile films due to premiere at the Toronto and New York festivals, two or three of which Telluride shows or sneaks. Given that New York (for which I serve on the selection committee) will be world-premiering Ang Lee's Life of Pi, David Chase's Not Fade Away and Robert Zemeckis' Flight, rule them out for Colorado. Toronto is loaded with premieres that look enticing, and several of them -- by directors favored by Telluride -- look like possibilities: Sally Potter's Ginger and Rosa, Neil Jordan's Byzantium, Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha, Roger Michell's Hyde Park on Hudson and maybe Joe Wright's Anna Karenina or Ben Affleck's Argo.

Then there are the surprises, the films that come out of nowhere, that only Luddy seems to know about. And, of course, there are the less headline-making but equally revelatory rediscoveries and special programs and whatever guest director Geoff Dyer brings.

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