Roger Corman wins an Oscar – and a TFF tribute


Roger Corman wins an Oscar – and a TFF tribute

Roger Corman wins an Oscar – and a TFF tribute

Every year since the event got off the ground in 1974, The Telluride Film Festival, known locally as The SHOW, pays tribute to artists whose contributions resonate throughout the medium and over time. Thirty-nine years ago, the first tributees were Gloria Swanson, Francis Ford Coppola, and Leni Riefenstahl. (And, while you are strolling around town between screenings, a show of 12 photographs, handpicked by Riefenstahl, are now on display at the Telluride gallery of Fine Art.)

The list of actors honored by the Film Fest swelled over nearly 40 years to include Jack Nicholson, Gerard Depardieu, Clint Eastwood, Isabelle Huppert, Jodie Foster, Klaus Kinski, Shirley MacLaine,Toni Collette, Daniel Day Lewis,Viggo Mortensen,George Clooney,Tilda Swinton. Part-time local – she met her husband Marc Schauer, her V.I.P host, when she was honored in 2004 – Laura Linney was also honored. She returns this year with a new and buzzy film, “Hyde Park on Hudson,” in which she plays the shy, young niece of a Machiavellian FDR (Bill Murray).

Director/producers who have been Film Festival tributees include Werner Herzog, Chuck Jones, Robert Altman, Pedro Almodovar, Ken Burns, Neil Jordan and Pierre Etaix ( aka “the French Buster Keaton”).

This year, the Telluride Film Festival singles out a jack of all film trades, Academy Award-winning producer-director-distributor-actor-talent scout Roger Corman.

Born April 1926, Corman, a former Stanford U. engineering student, entered the picture business as a messenger and became producer/director after a stint as a story analyst and a detour to Oxford University. Initially his name was associated with low-budget B movies, among them “The Undead,” “Attack of the Crab Monsters, and “It Conquered the World,” plus the seminal “Little Shop of Horrors,” all of which he made in the 1950s.

By the 1960s, Corman began to take on more serious projects including a series of adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories, many of which starred Vincent Price. He also made “The Intruder,” a serious look at racial integration in the South, starring a young William Shatner of  “Star Trek” fame. But the film was a commercial flop, his first. Corman quickly resolved to keep his socio-political concerns off the silver screen and promote pure entertainment.

Roger Corman came to be known as “The King of the Cult Film” and ‘The Pope of Pop Cinema,” but he remains one of the most successful producers in the history of Hollywood: over nearly six decades in the business, only about a dozen of his films failed to turn a profit. And his eye for talent is nearly unrivaled. Among those he mentored: Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, James Cameron, Robert de Niro, Peter Bogdanovich (today on Film Fest’s Council of Advisors), and Sandra Bullock.

In 2009, Corman was honored with an Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Marion Cottillard is an ecologist and spokesperson for Greenpeace. But that is not why you know her name.
Cotillard came to fame as an actress, in line behind Jeanne Moreau in the early 1960s and then Catherine Deneuve, also in the 1960s, as an actress who embodies “the spirit of the moment.” (From the TFF program.)

Her role as Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose,” (2007), brought Cotillard an Oscar in 2008, making her the second French actress after Simone Signoret (for “Room at the Top”) to be honored as “Best Actress” and the second actress to receive an acting Oscar for performing in a language other than English next to Sophia Loren, who won for “Two Women,” (1960). For the same film, “La Vie En Rose,” Cotillard won more than the golden statue. She gathered a virtual bouquet of trophies: BAFTA, Cesar and Golden Globe for Best Actress.

"Rust & Bone"

Tributee Marion Cotillard in “Rust & Bone”

Working in English more and more, Cotillard also made “Big Fish” for Tim Burton, “A Good Year” for Ridley Scott, played the neglected wife in “Nine,” Mal in Christopher Nolan’s “Inception.” She also appeared in Nolan’s “Dark Knight Rises, was a brief flame in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” and a doctor in “Contagion.”

The film she brings to the 2012 Telluride Film Festival is “Rust & Bones,” a lemons to lemonade tale in which she plays a drifter who endures a catastrophic accident and finds love and a new life.

Mads Mikkelsen, pronounced “Mass Meguelsnn,” was not a James Bond fan before starring in “Casino Royale,” (2006), as the villain Le Chiffre.

Mikkelsen was born in a working class suburb of Copenhagen to a mother who is a nurse and a taxi driving father. After nearly a decade as a professional dancer, he enrolled in Denmark’s national theater school. He made his film debut in the movie “Pusher.”

Mikkelsen’s longest running role was playing a policeman in the Danish TV series “Unit One.” The same year he acted in the Bond film, he took the lead in the Oscar-nominated “After the Wedding.” In 2010, he starred in the remake of “Clash of the Titans” as Draco, leader of the king’s guard.

TFF tributee Mads Mikkelsen

Tributee Mads Mikkelsen

Mads Mikkelsen brings two films to this year’s Film Fest.

Mikkelsen won Best Actor at Cannes for his role in director Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt” in which he plays Lucas, a divorced kindergarten aide falsely accused of child abuse. This agonizing study of the herd mentality and unquestioning belief in the innocence of children is meant to be cinema that sticks its sharp claws into your back and brings you to your knees. Critics anticipate an Oscar nomination for the actor.

“A Royal Affair” is an 18th-century historical drama and epic romance about the love triangle between a German doctor, John Struensee, Queen Caroline Mathilde of Denmark, and her deranged husband, King Christian VII. Mikkelsen plays the king’s doctor and advisor,but he is also a political reformer dedicated to Enlightenment ideals and determined to consolidate power and form a new society.

The Telluride Film Festival’s special medallion is given to a “hero of cinema,” an organization or individual who preserves, honors and presents great movies. Past special medallion winners have included the Criterion Collection, HBO, Ted Turner, Leonard Maltin and Pierre Riessent. This year, the honor goes to C. Chapin Cutler, Jr. and Boston Light & Sound, a company he co-founded in 1977. According to the TFF program, since then the company has become the “world’s preeminent exhibition specialist.” His first collaboration with the Film festival dates back to 1984.

Click the “play” button to listen to Gary Meyer talk about this year’s honored trio and the Special Medallion winner, C. Chapin Cutler, Jr.

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