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Telluride Film Festival: George Clooney, Alexander Payne In House For 'The Descendants' Screening

The Telluride Film Festival is famous for providing special surprises to festivalgoers who chance its "unannounced" screenings, and the first of this year's crop was no exception.

The 2011 "Patron's Preview" screening, held this afternoon at the Chuck Jones Cinema in the Mountain Village (which is a 12-minute gondola ride from the center of town), turned out to be the world premiere of the Fox Searchlight awards hopeful The Descendants, a dramedy co-written and directed by Oscar winner Alexander Payne (Sideways) and starring Oscar winner George Clooney (Syriana) in a performance that could earn him his second best actor Oscar nod in three years (he was nom'd for Up in the Air in 2009).

Payne, who served as a guest director of the 2009 festival and attended last year's, as well, will be joined at the screening by Clooney, who earlier in the day humored awe-struck journalists at the festival's "Patron's Brunch" along with stars from many of the festival's other scheduled films.

My take on The Descendants post-screening. Stay tuned.