Telluride Film Fest Unveils Starry Lineup: Robert Redford, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and More

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures
'The Old Man & the Gun'

'Roma' director Alfonso Cuaron and 'The Favourite' actress Emma Stone will be treated to tributes at the Rocky Mountain weekend festival that serves as a precursor to Oscar season.

The 45th Telluride Film Festival, which kicks off Friday and runs through Monday, will unveil such world premieres as David Lowery’s The Old Man & the Gun, starring Robert Redford as an escaped con; Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner, toplined by Hugh Jackman as presidential candidate Gary Hart; Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer, featuring Nicole Kidman as the survivor of an undercover police operation; Yann Demange’s true-crime tale White Boy Rick, starring Matthew McConaughey; and Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, in which Lucas Hedges plays a young man forced to undergo gay conversation therapy. 

The event, which traditionally plays its cards close to its vest, released its lineup Thursday even as festgoers are heading to the Rocky Mountain town.

Also on tap are Silver Medallion Award tributes to Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron, who is bringing his new semiautobiographical film, Roma; fellow Oscar winner Emma Stone, who is accompanying helmer Yorgos Lanthimos’ costume drama The Favourite, in which she co-stars with Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman; and the Cambodian documentary filmmaker Rithy Panh, who will screen his latest, Graves Without a Name.

Despite intense competition from both the glamorous Venice International Film Festival and the sprawling Toronto International Film Festival to be the first to offer some of the season’s most anticipated movies, TFF executive director Julie Huntsinger says of the more intimate Telluride fest sandwiched between the two titans, “There are so many good movies this year, it’s just heartbreaking that we can’t include them all. But we got what we wanted, and I’m just thrilled with the brand-new things we get to show.”

To be sure, there will be a number of films screening at Telluride after first bowing in Venice, including the Italian festival’s opener, Damian Chazelle’s First Man, as well as Cuaron's Roma; Mike Leigh’s period piece Peterloo; Peter Bogdanovich’s Buster Keaton doc The Great Buster; and the late Orson Welles’ years-in-the-making The Other Side of the Wind.

And unlike this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which shut out Netflix features, Telluride will be welcoming several titles from the streamer. “They’re pro cinema and so are we. As long as people treat cinema as the beautiful art that it is, we’re with them,” says Huntsinger, giving Netflix props for picking up Roma, a foreign-language film in black and white. "[Roma]’s breathtaking, what a genius Alfonso Cuaron is and Netflix is supporting that vision 1,000 percent.”

The streaming giant also supported the completion of the Welles movie, which Telluride will screen alongside Morgan Neville’s doc about the making of the film, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead; a documentary short produced by Frank Marshall, A Final Cut for Orson: 40 Years in the Making; and Mark Cousins’ doc The Eyes of Orson Welles. “One could really pig out on Orson Welles this year,” jokes Huntsinger.

Previewing some of the other titles, Huntsinger says of The Old Man & the Gun, Redford “is very sincere about this being his last film, and I’m most proud we’re showing it. It’s fun, it’s great. Sissy Spacek is fantastic and David Lowery’s a talented guy.” The Favourite is “fabulous and wonderful, nutty and over the top,” she promises. In the case of Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, in which Melissa McCarthy plays celebrity biographer Lee Israel, Huntsinger predicts, “Hopefully, it will make up for The Happytime Murders.” And in White Boy Rick, she notes, McConaughey “is at the top of his game.”

In addition to the Welles and Keaton films, there will be other looks back at Hollywood history. Pamela E. Green’s Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache, narrated by Jodie Foster, spotlights the pioneering, though now mostly forgotten, female filmmaker, and Peter Medak’s The Ghost of Peter Sellers recounts the director’s experience making a pirate movie, Ghost in the Noonday Sun, with the late mercurial performer.

“We have too many good docs,” says Huntsinger, pointing to Free Solo, about the first person to succeed at a free solo climb of Yosemite’s El Capitan Wall, from the team of Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, who also directed 2015’s Meru, as well as to Werner Herzog and Andre Singer’s Meeting Gorbachev, in which Herzog, a Telluride mainstay, sits down with the former Russian leader.

According to Huntsinger, some of the films that could emerge from the fest as real discoveries are John Chester’s doc The Biggest Little Farm, about how he and his wife, Molly, embarked on an eight-year effort to create their own farm; and Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron’s Ghost Fleet, funded by Paul Allen, which follows Thailand human rights activist Patima Tungpuchayakul as she sets out to rescue fishermen who have been forced into virtual slavery.

In addition, novelist and essayist Jonathan Lethem, who is serving as the fest’s guest director, has assembled a revival program that includes everything from two Ernst Lubitsch classics, Angel and To Be or Not to Be, to Carroll Ballard’s Never Cry Wolf.

Only-in-Telluride moments will include such events as a 35th anniversary presentation of a restored version of Gregory Nava’s El Norte, which will get an outdoor screening.

One name missing this year will be that of longtime Telluride regular Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, who decided to unveil his latest film, If Beale Street Could Talk, in Toronto. “When people discover the film, I think you’ll see he has a specific vision for it, but he’ll always be part of our family, he’s just going to be somewhere else this year,” says Huntsinger, noting that Jenkins did curate the short program that will be on view.

The full list of the new feature films in Telluride's main program is below.

Angels Are Made of Light (James Longley, U.S.-Denmark-Norway, 2018)
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache (Pamela E. Green, U.S., 2018)
Birds of Passage (Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, Colombia-Denmark-Mexico, 2018)
Border (Ali Abbasi, Sweden, 2018)
Boy Erased (Joel Edgerton, U.S., 2018)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller, U.S., 2018)
Cold War (Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland-France-U.K., 2018)
Destroyer (Karyn Kusama, U.S., 2018)
Dogman (Matteo Garrone, Italy-France, 2018)
Dovlatov (Aleksei German, Russia-Poland-Serbia, 2018)
First Man (Damien Chazelle, U.S., 2018)
Fistful of Dirt (Sebastian Silva, U.S., 2018)
Free Solo (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, U.S., 2018)
Ghost Fleet (Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron, U.S., 2018)
Girl (Lukas Dhont, Belgium-Netherlands, 2018)
Graves Without a Name (Rithy Panh, France-Cambodia, 2018)
Meeting Gorbachev (Werner Herzog and Andre Singer, U.K.-U.S.-Germany, 2018)
Non Fiction (Olivier Assayas, France, 2018)
Peterloo (Mike Leigh, U.K., 2018)
Reversing Roe (Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, U.S., 2018)
Roma (Alfonso Cuaron, Mexico, 2018)
Shoplifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, 2018)
The Biggest Little Farm (John Chester, U.S., 2018)
The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland-U.K.-U.S., 2018)
The Front Runner (Jason Reitman, U.S., 2018)
The Great Buster (Peter Bogdanovich, U.S., 2018)
The Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery, U.S., 2018)
The Other Side of the Wind (Orson Welles, U.S., 1976/2018)
The White Crow (Ralph Fiennes, U.K., 2018)
They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Morgan Neville, U.S., 2018)
Trial By Fire (Ed Zwick, U.S., 2018)
Watergate – Or, How We Learned to Stop an Out-of-Control President (Charles Ferguson, U.S., 2018)
White Boy Rick (Yann Demange, U.S., 2018)