Telluride 2018

Sissy Spacek and Robert Redford in David Lowery’s The Old Man & the Gun (2018)

Every Labor Day Weekend, a few thousand dedicated cinephiles, filmmakers, critics, and programmers ascend to a small town tucked into the mountains of Colorado for one of the country’s most prestigious film festivals. As tradition would have it, Telluride hasn’t revealed its full lineup until today, just before the forty-fifth edition opens tomorrow and runs through Monday. This year’s lineup of around sixty features and shorts is a mix of world premieres, highlights from other festivals, revivals, and half a dozen classics selected by guest director Jonathan Lethem, the award-winning novelist, essayist, and short story writer.

Among the world premieres are a handful of titles heading straight to Toronto next week: David Lowery’s The Old Man & the Gun, with Robert Redford as a charming bank robber; Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner, with Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart, the Colorado senator who ran for president in 1988; Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer, with Nicole Kidman as a police detective confronted with personal demons; Yann Demange’s White Boy Rick, with Matthew McConaughey as a father whose drug-dealing son becomes an informant for the feds; and Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased, with Lucas Hedges as a young man whose parents (Kidman and Russell Crowe) force him to undergo gay conversion therapy.

Titles flying into Telluride from Venice include Damien Chazelle’s First Man, with Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong; Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, based on the Mexican director’s childhood memories; Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, marking the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester; Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, in which two cousins battle for the favor of Queen Anne; and Rithy Panh’s Graves Without a Name, a reflection on the genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. Telluride 2018 will also screen critical favorites from Cannes, including Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winner, Shoplifters, Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s Directors’ Fortnight opener, Birds of Passage, and Matteo Garrone’s Dogman.

The spirit of Orson Welles will be keenly felt all weekend as the festival presents the U.S. premiere of the newly reconstructed and restored version of The Other Side of the Wind; Morgan Neville’s documentary about its making, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead; Ryan Suffern’s short film, A Final Cut for Orson: 40 Years in the Making; and Mark Cousins’s doc on Welles’s overlooked talents as a graphic artist, The Eyes of Orson Welles.

Since 1988, Telluride has been inviting guest directors to program a selection of films to present, and Lethem is evidently a big Ernst Lubitsch fan. He’s selected two films the German director made after moving to Hollywood, Angel (1937) with Marlene Dietrich and the anti-Nazi comedy To Be or Not to Be (1942). Lethem’s also picked Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life (1956), a favorite of Jean-Luc Godard’s; Douglas Sirk’s black-and-white World War I drama, The Tarnished Angels (1957); Carroll Ballard’s Never Cry Wolf (1983), based on Farley Mowat's 1963 autobiography; and Mohammad Rasoulof’s The White Meadows (2009), which Nick Schager, writing for the House Next Door, has called a “gorgeously wrought fable trading in subtle, if nonetheless unmistakable, social commentary.”

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