Telluride: Robert Redford, Coppolas Dazzle Fellow Filmmakers at Opening Brunch

Oscar hopefuls Alexander Payne, Bruce Dern, Oscar Isaac, J.C. Chandor, Errol Morris and Adele Exarchopoulos were among the bold-faced names in attendance.
Scott Feinberg
Bruce Dern, Robert Redford, J.C. Chandor and Francis Ford Coppola (l-r)

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- This year's Telluride Film Festival's Patrons Brunch, an annual gathering of the filmmakers with films in the fest, longtime festival friends, members of the press and festival big-money patrons, took place this morning at a private residence high above the village at which most of the festival takes place. And it was a casual, fun and truly star-studded affair.

To give you a sense of what I'm talking about: All Is Lost star Robert Redford, Nebraska star Bruce Dern, All Is Lost writer-director J.C. Chandor, Inside Llewyn Davis star Oscar Isaac and Palo Alto director Gia Coppola -- along with her grandfather, Francis Ford Coppola -- all sat at one table throughout much of the event, greeting well-wishers left and right.

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Others walked around, mingled and sampled the buffet tables and bar, including Blue Is the Warmest Color star Adele Exarchopoulos, The Past writer-director Asghar FarhadiThe Unknown Known director Errol Morris, and the writers Buck Henry, Phillip Lopate and Salman Rushdie, who are guest directors of this year's fest. Also present was Werner Herzog, a festival regular who has two films in this year's fest -- and is the namesake of a new festival venue that will open later today.

It was fun to chat with the bold-faced names -- and to watch them interact with each other. After meeting Coppola, Chandor gushed, "You know what he said to me? I introduced myself, and he goes, 'I know who you are -- I'm coming to your movie in two hours.' I literally almost fell out of my chair!" And when a friend introduced Henry to him as "a living legend," he replied, "I am aware!" and kneeled before "the master."

The legendary Redford was as much the center of attention as anyone. He not only stars in the film All Is Lost but will also receive a career tribute at this year's fest -- "I'm a shy actor, but it's an honor," he told me -- and said that he's very excited for North American audiences to finally see his film, which previously screened out of competition at Cannes.

"This one really brings me back to my roots," he said. "I did it because it was different. I did it because [Chandor] premiered his film [Margin Call] at [Sundance]. He's the only filmmaker, of all the filmmakers we've sponsored and promoted, who ever came back and asked me to be in a picture! When he came to see me, he said, 'Well, I've written this with you in mind. There's no dialog." I said, 'I like it already!' And then when I realized how difficult it was, how physically demanding it would be, I thought, 'Well, this would be interesting, at my age, to see how far I can push myself. It was grueling, but it was a good thing to do."

Redford added, "The one thing that I think can be said about [All Is Lost] is that it's different from anything. I don't think anything comes before it. I liked that, obviously. And another thing that appealed to me is that it has a kind of existential side to it, which is very similar to another film that I made years ago called Jeremiah Johnson -- the same thing. 'What makes a character, when things look impossible, keep going? Some don't, and some do. What is it?' And I like the idea that that's an open question. You don't know why you keep going; you just keep going because that's all you can do."

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Everyone seemed to agree that they were nervous and excited for their own film's screening, but giddy at the prospect of checking out other films in the fest.

Farhadi, whose film was awarded the best actress prize at Cannes, said anxiously, "I'm waiting for feedback from the American people," and added, "I want to see Nebraska -- I like [Alexander Payne], and I like all of his movies."

Francis Ford Coppola, who was at the first edition of the fest 40 years ago, but hasn't been back since, told me, "I very much enjoyed seeing Nebraska last night. I'm not gonna be able to stay here long enough to see Alfonso Cuaron's [Gravity], which I would like to see, but I'm gonna see, I think at four o'clock, the film that Bob Redford's in." Gia added, "We saw Nebraska, which was great. And I'm excited to see the Coen brothers' movie. And Prisoners I'm interested in."

Exarchopoulos told me, "There are a lot of movies I'm so excited to see. Tonight I will see Gloria, and the Coens' one, and also Starred Up -- I just read the script and I really want to see it."

Isaac said, "I really want to see Gravity. I'm a science nerd, I love space, I think [Cuaron]'s an incredible director, and, from what I've seen, it looks so beautiful, just the way it's shot -- everything about it." (When I mentioned to him that people seem to be having a hard time pronouncing 'Llewyn,' he said, "If we were actually saying it the way you're supposed to pronounce it, you would never do it. It's actually pronounced (phlegm sound) -- it's Welsh. Inside (phlegm sound) Davis," he laughed.)

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All Is Lost producer Neal Dodson laughed, "I'm gonna screw up the name -- the Galapagos documentary [The Galapagos Affair], because I saw a little snippet about it and it looks amazing. I'm also trying to see Inside Llewyn Davis. And I want to see Gravity, but I'm leaving before it screens, so I'll have to see it in New York."

Sony Pictures Classics co-chief Michael Barker -- who has a bunch of films at the fest, as always, and also got to pick a classic film to screen -- cited his pick without hesitation: "Errol Morris' new movie -- I treasure Errol Morris."

And Morris himself sighed, "God, there's so many of them. I want to see the film that Dom DeLillo is bringing. The Zapruder film I've seen before, as it turns out," he laughed, "but I'd love to see DeLillo's presentation. And the Coen brothers' film for many, many, many reasons. Werner has two documentaries here. And I'd like to see the Jason Reitman movie [Labor Day]."

It sounds like Morris won't have to wait long to see Labor Day -- the word around town is that the Paramount release will kick off the fest in this year's "TBA" Patron's Screening slot at 2:30, following in the footsteps of Payne's The Descendants in 2011 and Ben Affleck's eventual best picture Oscar winner Argo in 2012.

Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottFeinberg for additional news and analysis.