There’s a lovely creek that runs along the town of Telluride, the San Miguel River. Let’s say we walk to the stream. Step in. Are you wading in to cool off? Following your dog as he splashes joyfully? Are you jumping rock to rock as a shortcut as you hurry to work and barely noticing the beauty of the river?
Every person who dips a toe in the river has a different experience. The same can be said for a festival.
If you came to the Telluride Film Festival to work as a volunteer, you may have had little time to enjoy the films. As a Patron, you may have enjoyed some fabulous meals and the chance to reconnect with fellow Patrons you only see once a year. Perhaps you bought the Cinephile Pass and were pleased at how many films you managed to see. Your expectations colored your experience.
For some guests at the Show this year, there were fewer Big Name Fall Films to choose from. So often, the festival has hosted some of the films that later vied for Oscar consideration. This year, the Program had room for some of the smaller films to gain the attention and acclaim they deserved. Yes, there was the much-discussed “Tár” with an assured performance by Cate Blanchett and some lovely sentimental films like “Living” and “Good Night Oppy”.
I enjoyed seeing “Empire of Light”. This is Sam Mendes’ meditation on mental health and racism set in an Art Deco film palace. Olivia Colman gives a moving performance. There’s something special about watching a projectionist share his love of film with another character in the film…and with us as an audience. Watching film projected as we as an audience watch that film unspool for us is a meta experience.
Following it up with a screening of “Women Talking” which stars, among other powerhouse women, Jessie Buckley–was like revisiting “Lost Daughter”. Olivia Coleman and Jessie Buckley starred in that film together and I also got to see it here.
Filmmaker Sarah Polley (“Away From Her”, “The Stories We Tell”) was here for her Tribute. She brought most of her cast of “Women Talking”. What a treat to hear Frances McDormand, Claire Foy, Rooney Mara and Jessie Buckley along with lesser known actresses Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod and the wonderful young women: Kate Hallett and Liv McNeil discuss the making of the film. Many festival guests watched the film multiple times as they wanted to make sure their friends got to see it.
I was impressed with the documentary, “Wildcat” (Melissa Lesh, Trevor Beck Frost). Pairing the rescue of wild jungle animals with the rehabilitation of someone suffering from PTSD is quite an accomplishment. The film is very moving, both intense and immersive with an astonishing emotionally-bare look at one young man’s journey. I’m not usually a fan of the handheld camera but for this jungle setting, it was essential and gave the film a raw, emotional resonance. Go for the ocelets. Stay for the triumph of the human spirit. The film was purchased by Amazon Studios…so you’ll be able to stream this film on Amazon Prime starting on Dec. 22, 2022.
As a volunteer at the Sheridan Opera House, I get to see many unusual Film offerings. This year, a highlight was the Georges Méliès restored films with piano accompaniment and commentary by the amusing Serge Bromberg. There were even stereoscopic glasses to watch portions in 3-D. A perfect venue to see these silent shorts as the Opera House was built in 1913.
There were many attendees who took advantage of this year’s gathering to catch up with friends. I felt that myself. For me, it was more important to spend time with people than to race off to yet another screening. I watched far fewer films but I don’t regret it. The pleasures of enjoying this beautiful town and escaping the heat to talk film with friends was a highlight of my year.
Favorite films: “The Wonder”, “Women Talking”, “WIldcat”, “Close”, “Empire of Light”
Wished I could’ve seen: “Good Night Oppy”, “Lady Chatterly’s Lover”, “Armageddon Time”, “Living” and all the films at the Backlot