Spotlight, Steve Jobs, Suffragette…yes, all good films…even great films, but this year’s Telluride Film Festival seemed to have gone Hollywood. There were many Star-Studded, Serious Subject films…okay enough with the alliteration.
There’s a wonderful system of TBAs; films that get screened again on Sunday and Monday of this brief four-day festival. In response to films that “Sell Out”, those films are screened in the empty slots in the program. This year, the well-heeled crowd of Sponsors and Patrons seemed mainly interested in the big budget films. The Sunday screening of “Spotlight” at the Chuck Jones Theater (one of the larger venues), was at Rush within 15 minutes and the lawn at Elk Park was a sea of tarps, chairs and blankets for the evening screening of the same film. To have a big film screen two times in one day but still not satisfy the crowds of film fans; that’s an odd thing.
To be fair, many of the smaller independent films were also at capacity. At the Sheridan Opera House, it was standing room only for back-to-back films and many people were turned away. Ixcanul and Rams were both screened again in bigger venues, but Monday’s programming had 8 Hollywood films to the 26 Indies. There didn’t seem to be as many brilliant films this year…and many people were disappointed in films that they waited in long lines in the rain to see. There were lots of film fans disappointed on Sunday particularly–many screenings had to turn away even the Passholders.
Every film festival wants to have some stars and add some glamour to the program. Telluride Film Festival is no different, but in the past, the emphasis was on the big-name directors: Werner Hertzog, Ken Burns, and other auteurs that have made TFF a cinephile’s paradise. This year there was a tribute to Danny Boyle, media-maker Adam Curtis and the talented Rooney Mara but the festival would have been better served screening the cinema-focused Hitchcock/Truffaut and Ingrid Bergman–In Her Own Words in the larger houses…and stick the slick Hollywood films like Black Mass in the encore program.