During my first day at the Telluride Film Festival, I had the opportunity to screen Alexander Payne‘s The Descendants and the much talked about Cannes sensation The Artist, a black and white silent film set in the silent-era Hollywood. Both of the films will be vying for awards come Oscar season, and you can get the scoop right here. Also after the jump is a couple of ramblings and musings on how Telluride has changed in the information age and rise of social media, along with some of the photos I’ve taken during my first day in this small mountain town.

The Telluride Film Festival hasn’t changed much over the 38 years they have been running it. When I first began attending the festival just a hand-full of years ago, I remember going to this little press meeting in downtown Telluride. Alex from Firstshowing and I sat in the corner like outsiders. Most of the small room was filled with journalists and critics for print publications from around the world. I don’t remember how many other online writers were in that room that day, but it wasn’t many. How things have changed.

This year we walked in to the annual pre-fest press meeting and the main table in the middle of the room was filled with mostly online journalists. The print press, now in the corners. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as this change has been happening everywhere. It is just kind of strange to see it happen here, in Telluride.

Even the whole idea of surprise secret screenings seems to be something invented for an earlier time. Don’t get me wrong, the surprise screenings are part of the reason I come to this festival, but it seems like this festival is at odds with technology. Bloggers now tweet photos from bookstores revealing hints at what movies might be on the secret program. Other bloggers publish articles giving away some of the big secrets — for example, the film Butter is one of the sneak premieres at this year’s fest.

If this were a decade ago, people would have still noticed Jennifer Garner on the plane or around town and begun talking and speculating. The gossip would spread, but certainly not as fast as it does today. Only minutes before the charter jet to Telluride was set to take off and there were already tweets and blogs reporting Garner’s appearance of the flight, and how this almost certainly meant that Butter would be part of the secret program.

Secret service have been in and around town for a couple weeks now, but not for the film festival. Down the highway a bit, celebrities have gathered for an entirely different event — On Sunday, the fashion designer Ralph Lauren’s son David Lauren will marry Lauren Bush, niece of former President George W. Bush, at a 17,000-acre ranch. Two former United States presidents will be in attendance, alongside the likes of Oprah and Johnny Depp (who after being spotted in a store around town, it was immediately speculated on blogs and twitter that his appearance could mean that Rum Diary might be the second sneak premiere).

The first film I screened was my most anticipated film of the festival – Alexander Payne‘s The Descendants. Payne’s 2004 academy award-winning film Sideways established him to the masses, but for me it was his 1999 adaptation of Election starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderrick. It is still one of my favorite films of all time — if you havent seen it, please do me a favor and check it out. Payne has been absent since winning the Oscar, directing the pilot of the HBO series Hung, contributing a short film to the feature collaboration Paris, Je T’Aime, and partly writing the 2007 Adam Sandler comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (a writing credit which I, like many, still find baffling).

Continue Reading Peter’s Reactions for The Descendants and The Artist >>

Due to the amount of graphics and images included, we had to split this post over two pages. Click the link above to continue the second page of the Telluride blog.

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.