Two days after Venice and less than a week before Toronto, the Telluride Film Festival opens today to run through the Labor Day weekend. Alongside a healthy roster of world premieres that includes Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow and Josh and Benny Safdie’s Uncut Gems, the festival tucked into a canyon in the Colorado mountains will also screen a number of classics selected by guest director Pico Iyer, including works by Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse.
This year’s edition is dedicated to the memory of the Agnès Varda and features the late artist and director’s final work, the autobiographical essay film Varda by Agnès (2019), as well as Uncle Yanco (1967) and Black Panthers (1968). Working with Janus Films, New York’s Film at Lincoln Center will launch a traveling Varda retrospective on December 20.
A few highlights from the week that’s closed out the summer:
- In the wake of arts funding cuts in Ontario, the new issue of the feminist film journal cléo, named after Corinne Marchand’s character in Varda’s Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), will also be the last. “Over six years we published nineteen issues, featuring 180 articles and a total of 130 pieces by women and non-binary folks,” write the editors in a bittersweet farewell. “The end of cléo speaks to a failure of our industry. Film and culture writing has become beholden to a craven economy that makes it all but impossible to hold down staff positions or live comfortably as a freelancer. We did our best to choose quality of work over quantity of clicks. We paid the price for that decision, and we’d gladly pay it again.” The Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz has put together an oral history of the journal and notes that “a best-of print issue” is in the works, thanks to a donation from Moonlight director Barry Jenkins.
- Still in print after over a quarter of a century and still going strong, Filmmaker posted its most popular annual feature this week. Past editions of “25 New Faces of Independent Film” have helped boost the careers of such directors as Andrew Bujalski, Miranda July—and Barry Jenkins.
- Talkhouse has posted something of a manifesto by Roberto Minervini, the Italian-born director whose work gives voice to underseen communities in the U.S. Writing for Artforum, Nick Pinkerton suggests that, taken as a pair, The Other Side (2015), a portrait of white renegade militia in Louisiana, and his latest, What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? (2018), which focuses on black lives in New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi, make “a compelling case” that “fear is one of the defining aspects of contemporary American life.” Minervini argues that documentary filmmaking has “inherited one of the key features of journalism: the ability to unmask and make public the failures of our democracy. Arguably, documentaries are the most powerful media to deliver truth to the public and restore social and civic order.”
- Karel Kachyna’s The Ear (1970), “set amongst the higher echelons of Czechoslovak power as its movers and shakers gather and gossip at a clearly important party,” is a classic of the Czechoslovak New Wave with “as many thematic nods to Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as to the universe of Franz Kafka,” writes Michael Brooke for the BFI. And the new restoration “is a literal revelation.”
- Finally for now, here’s one of the oddest—and perhaps most promising—“in the works” items ever noted in the Daily. Collider’s Jeff Sneider broke the story, which has since been confirmed by Variety’s Justin Kroll. Richard Linklater, who shot Boyhood (2014) over a period of twelve years, has committed to an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along. “I first saw, and fell in love with Merrily in the ‘80s,” says Linklater, “and I can’t think of a better place to spend the next twenty years than in the world of a Sondheim musical.” That’s right, twenty years. Told in reverse chronological order, Merrily is the story of a Broadway composer to be played by Ben Platt who heads out to Hollywood to become a producer. Beanie Feldstein will play his best friend, a theater critic. If all goes according to plan, by the time the production wraps, Platt will be forty-five years old, Feldstein forty-six, and Linklater will be seventy-nine. “I don’t enter this multi-year experience lightly,” he says, “but it seems the best, perhaps the only way, to do this story justice on film.”
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