Telluride Film Festival: A contact sport

Telluride Film Festival: A contact sport

The mission of the National Film Preserve, the 501 C (3) umbrella corporation under which the Telluride Film Festival operates all year, is to celebrate the art of filmmaking, not the business, which pumps out and promotes easy-to-swallow audio-visual capsules.

Each year, Festival directors Tom Luddy and Gary Meyer, screen hundreds of movies to find the highest quality product about 20 – 30 features, that collectively provide a great perspective of the past, present and future of film. Documentaries are given as much prominence as features.

This year, as in years past, the 35th annual Film Festival was as educational as it was entertaining, and it was played as a contact sport – minus the teeth. On the field, almost no one is overtly mollycoddled or petted. Actors, directors, cinematographers, buffs and students walk side-by-side down Main Street and side streets of town critiquing what they have just seen. But most of the buzz comes from the lines.

Critic Leonard Maltin:
“Josef von Sternberg’s ‘The Last Command’ is a very modern silent film, vintage 1928, about the business of making movies, which the director looks at with a jaundiced eye. America at the time had a fondness for all things European and a deep interest in what happened to the people who fled Russia after the fall of the czar. Told mostly in a flashback, ‘The Last Command’ is still relevant and remains provocative.”

Lisa Barlow, Brooklyn, New York:
“I found both ‘Revanche’ and ‘Flame and Citron’ harrowing. In Mike Leigh’s ‘Happy-Go-Lucky,’ Sally Hawkins reminded me of another character actor, Giulietta Masina, who was married to Fellini.”

Ginny Fraser, Telluride:
“This year, I had an Acme Pass for the Chuck Jones. The Festival’s change of policy made my fellow passholders and me very happy: we were admitted right after the patrons.

“As for the films, I found the Irish brogue in “Kisses” very distracting. I think the director should have used subtitles. Jan Troell’s “Everlasting Moments” is a textured, beautifully photographed film about a photographer-survivor. Greg Kinnear was wonderful in the true story Robert Kearns’ David and Goliath fights with the automobile industry.

Jeff Goldblum was amazing in “Adam Resurrected,” but I had to leave the theatre before the film ended. I could not stomach the torture scenes.”

Jane Schubert, Bay Area:
“I thought ‘Everlasting Moments’ was beautifully filmed and deeply respectful of a hard-scrapple life.

Marvin Shapiro, Los Angeles:
“After last year, I felt compelled to write a not-quite-poison pen letter about the way regular passholders were treated. So many of us did not get in to too many films after long waits on line. This year, I appreciate the turnaround.”

Steve and Rita Weiskoff, Connecticut:
“We’ve been coming to Telluride for the Film Festival for over 30 years and based on the variety of the films we have seen so far, we are pleased it has returned to the high standards we had gotten used to.

We loved ‘Everlasting Moments’ and the tribute to Jan Troell. Part of the recurring thrill of Telluride is discovering talents you might never have heard of. We also thought ‘Adam Resurrected’ was brilliant but difficult.

Paul Lehman, Chicago and Telluride:
“This is my wife’s Ronna (Stamm) and my fourth Film Fest, but our first year as patrons, a privilege that could be addicting.

We loved the documentary about Ndour and the way it deals with contemporary social issues through music. We found the film both touching and important. And the mini concert that followed the screening was a true Telluride moment.

My favorite film of all is probably ‘Waltz with Bashir.’ Hearing Ari Folman speak at the Opera House about how he came to grips with the atrocities perpetrated at the Palestinian refugee camp during the 1984 invasion of Lebanon was a privilege. Animation becomes real-life footage during last five minutes of this brilliant film: we see the actual murders in the camp. At which point the writer’s nightmare became ours.

We found watching the silent film classic ‘The Last Command’ accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra a joy to behold. The music really brought the film to life. And we found the psychology of the movie so now, so modern.

‘Everlasting Moments’ is a beautifully filmed moving movie about a survivor. ‘Prodigal Sons’ about a transgendered woman was also deeply touching.

‘Hunger’ was overwhelming but beautifully made. I could go on…”

Mark and Sharen Berman, Chicago and Telluride:
“ ‘O’Horton’ was a sweet, poignant film that left us feeling good, smile inside kind of good. ‘Everlasting Moments’ was a cinematic gem, and one of several wonderful movies we’ve seen about mothers doing whatever it took to protect their children.

Bonnie Apfelbaum, Greenwich and Los Angeles:
The closing credits of ‘Slum Dog Millionaire’ were as much fun as a Broadway musical. I found the story of ‘American Violet’ compelling and the young actress who played Dee Roberts, (Nicole Behaire) incredible, believable. ‘Adam Resurrected’ was tough, but worthwhile.

Twins/volunteers Connie Fisher of Galisteo and Susie of Seattle:
“The fact that ‘Adam Resurrected’ felt so surreal kept us from feeling the full weight of its heaviness. And Jeff Goldblum handled this gigantic role beautifully. We found the film strange and wonderful.

Did you know that ‘American Violet’ was not filmed in Melody, Texas, but some place in Louisiana? We were very impressed with the casting and loved each and every character, even the black hats.

Another David and Goliath film like ‘American Violet’ was the sneak peak ‘Flash of Genius.’ ‘Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood’ was really, really fun. Hearing him talk about his youth lent perspective to the rest of his amazing life.

Susie: “I liked ‘Everlasting Moments,’ in part because I like looking at those Nordic men. My husband is a wonderful combination of Norwegian, Icelandic and Danish.

Connie: “ ‘Firaaq’ offered amazing insights into the damage the train fire that killed 58 Hindus in 2002 had been to the community. We see the rippled effects of the incident, the way the horror made some people afraid forever and drove others crazy.

“I thought the Romanian film ‘Philanthropy’ was a wonderful story, wonderfully acted and with the tightness of ‘Sleuth.’

“Youssou Ndour of ‘I Bring What I Love’ is clearly a musical superstar and what a privilege to have seen him perform live.”

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