Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, Cary Fukanaga’s Beasts of No Nation, Scott Cooper’s Black Mass, Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight and Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette are among the films awaiting festivalgoers heading to the 42nd Telluride Film Festival, which kicks off Friday and runs through Sept. 4.
Following their own idiosyncratic tradition, festival organizers waited until Thursday, when moviegoers are already beginning the annual pilgrimage to the Rocky Mountain town in Colorado, to unveil the fest’s carefully curated lineup. “It’s a very strong, intelligent lineup,” promises TFF executive director Julie Huntsinger. “A lot of thought and process has gone into every single film. Not that that isn’t always the case, but for some reason, this year, it feels like such a brainy collection of thought-provoking films.”
The films focus on subjects ranging from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in Steve Jobs to an African warlord in Beasts of No Nation. Johnny Depp will play legendary Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass; Mark Ruffalo appears as one of a group of reporters who unearth sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Spotlight; and Carey Mulligan joins up with British feminists fighting for the right to vote in Suffragette.
Other one-of-a-kind films to be unveiled include Charlie Kaufman’s new stop-motion movie titled Anomalisa; Xavier Giannoli’s Marguerite, about a would-be opera diva; and Laurie Anderson’s cinematic essay about post 9/11 life, Heart of a Dog.
This year’s festival, which is dedicated to the late Finnish film historian and director Peter von Bagh, the former head of the Finnish Film Archive, will feature special tributes to actress Rooney Mara, director Danny Boyle and British documentarian Adam Curtis.
Mara, at 30, is one of the youngest honorees the fest has ever toasted. She’ll be appearing along with her new film Carol, for which she received best actress honors in Cannes. “Looking at her clip reel, of course, Rooney’s is not going to be very long,” says Huntsinger. “But watching her in the films she has done, she has a beautiful, interesting, chameleon-like quality that’s used to good effect.”
Boyle, on the other hand, is a Telluride regular, having brought films like Millions, 127 Hours and Slumdog Millionaire to previous editions of the fest. “He’s definitely a Telluride family member, and this was a quick and easy choice,” Huntsinger says.
The festival will also honor Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media, which is represented by three films: Beasts, Spotlight and Davis Guggenheim’s He Named Me Malala, a documentary about the young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. It will present a special medallion to Jonathan King, Participant exec vp narrative film, and Diane Weyermann, exec vp documentary. Of the socially minded Participant, Huntsinger says, “They’ve defied the cliche of a well-meaning person with resources trying to do good and create art. How infrequently has that been successful. They have been making really, really good movies and deserve a lot of acclaim.
Other documentary films that will be screening include Sydney Pollack’s Amazing Grace, which captures a young Aretha Franklin; Charles Ferguson’s Time to Choose, about the fight to combat climate change; Kent Jones’ Hitchcock/Truffaut; Jennifer Peedom‘s Sherpa; Stig Bjorkman’s Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words; Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict; and Evgeny Afineevsky’s Winter on Fire, which follows the demonstrations in Kiev, Ukraine, that brought about regime change.
In addition to Carol, award winners from other festivals that will get a Telluride airing include Laszlo Nemes’ Holocaust drama Son of Saul, which claimed the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, and Andrew Haigh’s portrait of a marriage 45 Years, which earned acting honors for its stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay in Berlin.
The festival will also take a look back at film history with several unique programs. It’s planning a screening of a restored version of Fritz Lang’s Die Nibelungen, which runs 275 minutes with intermission, during which cineastes will be treated to beer and brats.
And it will return to Abel Gance’s silent 1927 classic Napoleon, which famously played Telluride at an outdoor screening in 1979, with a program called “Restoring Napoleon.” Georges Mourier, who is overseeing yet another restoration based on newly discovered footage, will describe the restoration process and present a new look at the film’s La Marseillaise sequence.
Novelist Rachel Kushner, who is serving as this year’s guest director, will be on hand with a selection of films she has made that includes Robert Frank’s Rolling Stones documentary Cocksucker Blues, Jean Eustache’s The Mother and the Whore; and a program that pairs together Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country and Agnes Varda’s Uncle Yanco.