Every September, a small rustic mountain ski town in Colorado becomes host to one of the most elite film festivals in North America — The Telluride Film Festival.

My friend Alex Billington of FirstShowing has a theory that most of the good film festivals are hard to get to. Alex’s theory is that to see the good films first, you really need to work for it. To attend Sundance, you need to fly into Salt Lake City and drive an hour into the Park City. To attend the Cannes Film Festival, you have to fly into Paris and take a six hour train ride into Cannes.

Unless you take the expensive plane that Hollywood studio types charter directly into the small small airport in Montrose and take a one hour shuttle into Telluride, then you’re flying into Denver, taking a very small plane into a very small airport in Durango (this is the type of airport where if you show up less than 30 minutes before your flight, there is a hand written note on the counter telling you that the desk attendant is busy loading the bags into the plane.). And from Durango, it’s still a two hour drive into Telluride. Even then, you’re probably not staying downtown — it’s too expensive. The three years I’ve attended Telluride, I’ve stayed in a more affordable ski hotel over the mountain, which means we have to take a 15 minute gondola ride into the city each morning and night.
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Telluride Film Festival Announces 2010 Line-up

One of the many things that makes the Telluride Film Festival more interesting than most other film festivals is that it doesn’t announce the line-up until 24 hours before the film festival begins. And even then the festival usually packs a few unannounced surprise premieres. This year’s line-up is kind of a let down. A large portion of the 24 feature films were selected from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which was filled with disappointment. The Cannes selections include Mike Leigh’s Another Year, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful (which I did like quite a bit), Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men, Charles Ferguson’s documentary Inside Job,  Stephen Frears’ Tamara Drewe and the 11-language six-hour biopic of legendary terrorist Carlos.

The high profile premieres of the fest seem to be Peter Weir’s war drama The Way Back, and Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, which I’m very excited about. The documentary titles seem to be more impressive than the features — aside from the previously mentioned Inside Job, the doc line-up includes Errol Morris’ Tabloid,, Martin Scorsese’s A Letter to Elia, Werner Herzog’s Happy People: A Year in the Taiga and Ken Burns’ The Tenth Inning, a four-hour “sequel” to the 1994 PBS series Baseball.

But everyone is talking about the films not included on the schedule. Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan were both rumored to be at the festival, but weren’t part of the announced line-up. They could, of course, be screened as some of the surprise selections at this year’s fest. We do know that Danny Boyle is scheduled to be in town to present a screening of his family film Millions. Could this just be a bait-and-switch for 127 Hours? It’s very possible. Filmmakers like Sofia Coppola and David Fincher who have premiered movies/footage in previous years are not included in the line-up, despite having applicable films to promote (Somewhere and The Social Network).

I will be in Telluride for the festival, so check back Friday-Monday to see my video blogs and reviews. See the full line-up after the jump.
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Movie Poster: Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan

Earlier today, Fox Searchlight released the movie trailer for Darren Aronofsky‘s next film Black Swan. If you haven’t yet watched the trailer, please do so now or we can no longer be friends. Searchlight has since released an official movie poster for the film. Nothing surprising, the one sheet uses the same image of Natalie Portman in crazy make-up we’ve seen previously. Hit the jump to see it for yourself.

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Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino has led the jury at Cannes, in 2004, but his experience at the Venice Film Festival has been limited to programming a couple of sidebars in ’04 and ’07. That changes this year, as the fest has named Tarantino head of the 2010 competition jury for the festival which will run from September 1-11. So what films is he likely to be judging? Read More »

Jason Reitman

While at the Telluride Film Festival, I had the chance to talk to Academy Award-nominated director Jason Reitman about his new, and much buzzed about film, Up in the Air. I conducted the interview in conjunction with my friend Alex from FirstShowing, filmed “up in the air,” (get it?) in a gondola traveling up and down the mountains of Telluride Colorado. This is probably the most unique interview I’ve ever been apart of, and it turned out pretty well. It’s a definite must watch, even if you haven’t seen the film (no spoilers are discussed). Watch the interview now embedded after the jump.
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Fish Tank Movie Trailer

fish tank quadOne of the things I really love about my film festival trips is that I get to discover some great small indie gems to share with you guys. Films that probably wouldn’t otherwise get exposure on a mainstream film blog like /Film. The film which most fits that bill from this year’s Telluride Film Festival is a coming of age movie titled Fish Tank. The film is from Academy Award-winning short film writer and director Andrea Arnold, who won the 2006 Cannes Jury Prize with Red Road. Here is the official plot synopsis for Fish Tank:

In Fish Tank (which is not about Fish or tanks for that matter), 15 year old Mia’s life is turned on its head when her mom brings home a new boyfriend. Arnold casts the same unflinching, unprejudiced gaze and touches on the themes of her Oscar-winning short Wasp to create an original and unsettling tale for our age.

Following his acclaimed central performance in Hunger, Michael Fassbender (300, Inglourious Basterds) stars opposite talented newcomer Katie Jarvis. Rounding out the principal cast are BAFTA-nominated Kierston Wareing (Ken Loach’s It’s a Free World), Harry Treadaway (Control, Brothers of the Head) and 12 year old Rebecca Griffiths making her film debut.

The film is an outstanding character piece with powerful performances, more than anything else — which is to say that if you require a story with big plot points, this may not be your thing. It’s a coming of age story with a strong female protagonist, something you don’t often see in Hollywood now-a-days. The film hits theaters in the UK on September 11th 2009, but IFC has yet to announce details about the U.S. release. You can watch the trailer embedded after the jump.
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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

red-riding_1

This is what festivals are for, even if you’re not able to attend. Scanning the Telluride coverage that came in over the weekend, a few films really stand out. Most of them are known quantities: Up in the Air, An Education, A Prophet. We knew those were ones to watch. But there’s another entry in the must-see column out of Telluride. Or, rather, three entries. Suddenly the trilogy of UK films collectively called Red Riding is getting massive praise and buzz. Read More »

The Road

It has been a lot busier here at Telluride this year than I’ve expected, which has prevented me from finding enough time to write about some of the film’s I’ve screened. I’ve been trying to keep the video blog reactions coming, as they are much easier to record in the 20-30 minute gap between films. I’d prefer to call them reactions over reviews because they basically capture our unedited thoughts immediately after seeing a film, before we’ve really had a chance to really think about it. Below you will find the newest video blog, a reaction to the behind the scenes Disney documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty (you can red my written review here) rand the big screen adaptation of The Road. Regular guest star Alex from FirstShowing joins in once again. Watch the video embedded after the jump.

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Movie Review: Waking Sleeping Beauty

Waking Sleeping Beauty

This afternoon I had the chance to see the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty, the directorial debut of Oscar-nominated Disney producer Don Hahn (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast). The film is an honest look at the behind the scenes going-ons of Disney Animation, from the years 1984 to 1994, a resurrection of sorts, producing a staggering output of big hits – Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King and more.

The film tracks the interesting tale is the story behind the creation of those films, and the growing power struggle between Jeffrey Katzenberg, Michael Eisner and Roy Disney. We learn about how creativity somehow thrived in this environment of corporate chaos. The film is not your typical talking head doc, and is wisely presented almost entirely using archival footage cut from over 250 hours of footage, photos, and cut with narration from newly recorded audio interviews. A lot of the footage has never been seen before, in any film or making of doc, ever.

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