Keeping its lineup as secret as possible until the eve of its opening on Thursday, the Telluride Film Festival just announced an eclectic, varied and in some cases likely Oscar-contending group of movies, most of which will have their U.S. debuts, and some world premieres, even though the fest doesn’t use labels like that themselves.
The hotly anticipated Warner Bros Williams family tennis drama King Richard starring Will Smith will have its world premiere at Telluride, along with MGM/UAR’s musical Cyrano starring Peter Dinklage, Amazon’s Encounter with Riz Ahmed plus their The Electrical Life of Louis Wain with Benedict Cumberbatch, and from Focus Features director Kenneth Branagh’s very personal coming-of-age black-and-white 1969-set film Belfast. The latter has previously been announced as a world premiere for the Toronto Film Festival, but movie fans in Colorado this Labor Day weekend will get the first look at it. Mike Mills’ A24 dramedy C’mon C’mon, which is also in black and white and stars Joaquin Phoenix, will be making its global debut as well in the Rockies over this Labor Day weekend.
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Netflix will be bringing three films straight from their Venice premieres: Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter. Other Venice world premieres also heading for their North American premieres in Telluride are Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter and Pablo Larrain’s much-awaited Princess Diana film Spencer starring Kristen Stewart. A Venice debut all the way back from 2020, Roger Michel’s The Duke is finally getting a North American premiere a year later in Telluride with star Helen Mirren expected to attend. The film was well received in Venice last year but is still awaiting an official release date from Sony Pictures Classics. The compelling Leonard Cohen documentary Hallelujah also will be making the trip from its Venice moment.
Silver Medallion awards tributes are planned for Campion, Dinklage and Ahmed. Among other notables expected to show in person are Branagh, Cumberbatch, Schrader, Sorrentino, Gyllenhaal, Stewart, Larrain, Kirsten Dunst, Matt Dillon, Jenny Slate and many more.
From the recent Cannes Film Festival, which always has a few films in common with Telluride, expect to see Cow, Ashgar Farhadi’s A Hero (with its director in tow), Petite Maman, Todd Haynes and his docu The Velvet Underground, Sean Baker appearing with his Red Rocket, and Russian Un Certain Regard winner Unclenching the Fists to name a few.
Festival programmers are not revealing the name of a special Sneak Preview, but you wouldn’t be wrong to guess that it is yet another Oscar hopeful from a major American director. No more clues. It is not even being listed in the program but will just pop up about three times over the course of the festival that runs through Monday.
National Geographic will also be hitting the 48th edition of frequent Oscar harbinger Telluride with no less than four world premiere documentaries including Fauci (Deadline debuted the trailer Tuesday), the Thai cave docu The Rescue, mountain climbing family drama Torn and the Jacques Cousteau biodoc Becoming Cousteau. The company hopes to use Telluride as a gauge on how to release the films as well, depending on audience reaction.
As usual there will be numerous documentaries on view including Sony Pictures Classics’ Julia Child docu Julia, CNN Films and HBO Max’s Arthur Ashe biodoc Citizen Ashe, Tribeca Leonard Bernstein import Bernstein’s Wall and many more including the delightful Automat which charts the birth and death of the infamous Automat restaurants and features Mel Brooks among its participants.
Animated fare includes Flee, first seen at Sundance, and the sales title Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. Another world premiere that will also be looking for a buyer at Telluride is writer-director Peter Hedges’ The Same Storm, which features a star cast including Elaine May, Judith Light and many others and was produced during the pandemic via a Zoom-style setup. I will have more on that one later this week.
As previously announced, Oscar-winning and Emmy-nominated director Barry Jenkins will be guest programmer.
Last year for the first time in its nearly half century of existence the festival had to cancel its annual Labor Day weekend gathering of cinephles, but by adding vaccination and Covid testing requirements among other safety measures including expanding the fest to make it one day longer and hopefully less crowded theatres, Telluride is determined to continue a tradition many filmmakers consider their favorite film festival of all. Oscar pundits and campaigners are expected to descend on the picturesque town in force as a premiere at this fest can be a strong boost for awards hopefuls. Among Oscar Best Picture winners first seen in Telluride were Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Argo and Moonlight, while many others had their American debuts like The Artist, Spotlight, The Shape of Water and most recently Parasite. On the other hand, past awards-season wannabes like The Front Runner and White Boy Rick basically opened and closed in Telluride. Nobody’s perfect.
My colleague Todd McCarthy and I will be on the ground and covering all of it with reviews and columns all weekend.
Here is the lineup for the 48th Telluride Film Festival:
THE AUTOMAT (d. Lisa Hurwitz, U.S., 2021) In person: Lisa Hurwitz
BECOMING COUSTEAU (d. Liz Garbus, U.S., 2021) In person: Liz Garbus
BELFAST (d. Kenneth Branagh, U.K., 2021) In person: Kenneth Branagh, Jamie Dornan
BERGMAN ISLAND (d. Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Germany/Sweden, 2021) In person: Mia Hansen-Løve
BITTERBRUSH (d. Emelie Mahdavian, U.S., 2021) In person: Emelie Mahdavian, Colie Moline
C’MON C’MON (d. Mike Mills, U.S., 2021) In person: Mike Mills, Gaby Hoffman, Molly Webster
CITIZEN ASHE (d. Sam Pollard, Rex Miller, U.S./U.K., 2021) In person: Sam Pollard, Rex Miller
COW (d. Andrea Arnold, U.K., 2021) In person: Andrea Arnold
CYRANO (d. Joe Wright, U.K., 2021) In person: Joe Wright, Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Erica Schmidt, Bryce Dessner, Aaron Dessner
THE DUKE (d. Roger Michell, U.K., 2021) In person: Roger Michell, Helen Mirren
THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN (d. Will Sharpe, U.K., 2021) In person: Will Sharpe, Benedict Cumberbatch
ENCOUNTER (d. Michael Pearce, U.S., 2021) In person: Michael Pearce
FAUCI (d. John Hoffman, Janet Tobias, U.S., 2021) In person: John Hoffman, Janet Tobias, Steven Wakefield, Peter Staley
FLEE (d. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Denmark, 2021) In person: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
HALLELUJAH: LEONARD COHEN, A JOURNEY, A SONG (d. Dayna Goldfine, Dan Geller, U.S., 2021) In person: Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Sharon Robinson,
THE HAND OF GOD (d. Paolo Sorrentino, Italy, 2021) In person: Paolo Sorrentino, Teresa Saponangelo, Luisa Ranieri, Filippo Scotti
A HERO (d. Asghar Farhadi, Iran/France, 2021) In person: Asghar Farhadi
JULIA (d. Julie Cohen, Betsy West, U.S., 2021) In person: Julie Cohen, Betsy West
KING RICHARD (d. Reinaldo Marcus Green, U.S., 2021) In person: Reinaldo Marcus Green
THE LOST DAUGHTER (d. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Greece/U.S./U.K./Israel, 2021) In person: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dakota Johnson, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Harris
MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON (d. Dean Fleischer-Camp, Jenny Slate, U.S, 2021) In person: Dean Fleischer-Camp, Jenny Slate
MUHAMMAD ALI (d. Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, David McMahon, U.S., 2021) In person: Sarah Burns, David McMahon, Rasheda Ali, Michael Bentt
NUCLEAR FAMILY (d. Ry Russo-Young, U.S., 2021) In person: Ry Russo-Young, Sandra Russo, Robin Young
PETITE MAMAN (d. Céline Sciamma, France, 2021) In person: Céline Sciamma
THE POWER OF THE DOG (d. Jane Campion, Australia/New Zealand, 2021) In person: Jane Campion, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons
PROCESSION (d. Robert Greene, U.S., 2021) In person: Robert Greene, Dan Laurine, Ed Gavagan, Mike Foreman, Michael Sandridge, Joe Eldred, Tom Viviano, Terrick Trobough
THE REAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN (d. James Spinney, Peter Middleton, U.S., 2021) In person: James Spinney, Peter Middleton
RED ROCKET (d. Sean Baker, U.S., 2021) In person: Sean Baker, Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Ethan Darbone, Brittney Rodriguez, Suzanna Son
E RESCUE (d. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, U.S./U.K., 2021) In person: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Mitch Torrel, Thanet Natisri
RIVER (d. Jennifer Peedom, Australia, 2021)
THE SAME STORM (d. Peter Hedges, U.S., 2021) In person: Peter Hedges, Noma Dumezweni, Mary-Louise Parker
SPEER GOES TO HOLLYWOOD (d. Vanessa Lapa, Israel/Austria/Germany, 2021) In person: Vanessa Lapa
SPENCER (d. Pablo Larraín, U.K./Germany/Chile, 2021) In person: Pablo Larraín, Kristen Stewart
TORN (d. Max Lowe, U.S., 2021) In person: Max Lowe, Conrad Anker, Jennifer Lowe-Anker, Isaac Lowe-Anker, Sam Lowe-Anker
UNCLENCHING THE FISTS (d. Kira Kovalenko, Russia, 2021) In person: Kira Kovalenko
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (d. Todd Haynes, U.S., 2021) In person: Todd Haynes, Ed Lachman