But given the high-altitude, low-intensity fest’s growing reputation for having a kudos-christening golden touch, it’s tempting to speculate on what festivalgoers are likely to see there. (And then see again, after the New Year, swimming in nominations.)
In the last few years, festival programmers have cannily slung one or two last-minute surprises into the mix that ended up skating on to awards-season attention. “Slumdog Millionaire” is the most noteworthy example; the film was slipped in as a last-minute premiere in September 2008 on its way to eight Oscars, including best picture, five months later.
But award magnets such as “Juno” (2007), “The Last King of Scotland” (2006), “Walk the Line” (2005) and “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) all got their start at the Colorado mountain fest too. Last year’s surprises included “Up in the Air,” “The Road” and “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” — plus a little horror indie called “Paranormal Activity.”
So what’s climbing the mountain to this year’s 37th edition?
A safe bet would be Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours,” the director’s follow-up to “Slumdog” and a reunion with that film’s writer (Simon Beaufoy) and producer (Christian Colson). It actually involves a climber trapped on a mountain in Utah, and its only festival berth so far is a closing slot at the London Film Festival in late October. Fox Searchlight, which handled “Slumdog,” “Juno” and “Scotland,” isn’t going to risk not giving it the ol’ Telluride boost ahead of its Nov. 5 theatrical release.
The studio also is likely to showcase Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go” and Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” in Telluride. Both are scheduled to screen at the Toronto Film Festival the following week (“Swan” will open Venice on Sept. 1), and both have fall release dates that could use the early momentum; “Go” opens Sept. 15, “Swan” Dec. 1).
Sony Pictures Classics is the other mini-distributor to show up in numbers regularly at Telluride. Last year, the studio showcased Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon,” Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet,” the Lone Scherfig-Nick Hornby collaboration “An Education,” and Anne Fontaine’s “Coco Before Chanel.” (All of these landed Oscar nominations, natch.)
The 2010 iteration could see Sony Classics showing up with half a dozen late-year titles, including Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist,” Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” Charles Ferguson’s economic meltdown doc “Inside Job,” Stephen Frears’ “Tamara Drewe” and Nigel Cole’s “Made in Dagenham.” Both “Inside Job” and “Another Year” have also been selected as part of the late-September New York Film Festival line-up.
Telluride always offers a full catalogue of unpredictable cinema, often aided by the eccentric choices of the guest director. Last year it was Alexander Payne, and this year author Michael Ondaatje (“The English Patient”) will pull favorites from the archives.
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