Every September, our small rustic mountain ski town in Colorado becomes host to one of the most elite film festivals in North America — The Telluride Film Festival. It’s not the most accessible film festival, and its certainly not cheap. So why do people attend the Telluride film Festival each year?
It’s been theorized that the best film festivals are in places that aren’t easy to get to. The idea is that they aren’t convenient to get to and that you have to spend considerable time, energy and money to partake in their treasures — you have to work for it, you have to earn it. It’s a flawed theory that totally sidesteps any of the metropolitan film festivals, most notably, the Toronto International Film Festival (but some could argue that dealing with customs is enough to qualify).
The line-up for Telluride is a closely guarded secret which isn’t revealed until the day before the festival begins. Everyone who attends books flights, hotels, passes and car rentals without even knowing what movies will play.
And even then, most of the bigger films are hidden in TBA “Sneak Preview Screening” slots. This allows Telluride to secretly premiere films that are already set to “officially premiere” at other festivals like Venice, Toronto, New York and Fantastic Fest. Of course, you’ll never hear the word “premiere” come out of anyone’s mouths that work or program the festival.
So you’re probably asking yourself: why would anyone want to go to the Telluride Film Festival? Seems like a lot of effort and money to see a few films, right? Here are the reasons we make the trek to Telluride every year:
The Rediscovery of Old Movies
The selections are eclectic, foreign (many of the films premiered at Cannes) and there is a large amount of classic screenings. It would be easy to attend this festival as a cinephile and see not one new movie. A lot of the classic films screened are movies not available on DVD or VHS. In some cases, the print being projected is the only one still known to be in existence.
Telluride Is Where The Road To The Oscars and Golden Globes Begins
In past years, Telluride has been the unofficial first stop for many award winners and contenders. Telluride secretly screened Jason Reitman’s Juno before it’s scheduled Toronto premiere. Danny Boyle secretly screened Slumdog Millionaire in the high school auditorium. Reitman returned with Up in the Air, days before the scheduled TIFF premiere. Fox Searchlight sneak previewed Black Swan and 127 Hours, while King’s Speech surprised everyone even though it was on the listed line-up. The Artist (which went on to win Best Picture) made its North American premiere, while Searchlight brought Alexander Payne’s The Descendants.
The award season bloggers flock to Telluride each year to get a sneak preview of what the story might look like for the next five months. Its great to experience these films early, before the hype and reviews boasting Oscar-caliber performances.
The Discovery of New Movies, Smaller Films That Might Not Get As Much Exposure
While many of the journalists that come to Telluride are award-minded, many come to the festival more to discover new gems. A great film doesn’t need to be award-caliber.
For many attending the festival, Telluride can mean being at that first screening — where the buzz begins.
Telluride’s high school auditorium is transformed into a state of the art movie theater. The small convention center is turned into a Chuck Jones-themed movie palace. Even the Elks lodge downtown is also fitted with a screen and seats. Walking around Telluride, you get the feeling these people could turn a banana into a small umbrella and put on a show…
You walk down the streets of Telluride and you’re walking next to the filmmakers and stars of the movies playing at the fest. Unlike Sundance, Cannes or Toronto, there is no divide. There are no limos escorting large entourages, and there are little to no celebrity gawking crowds or paparazzi. Everyone is there to see some great films and enjoy themselves. Its less about the business and more about the art. Telluride is a great place to experience movies.
Check out the Telluride Film Festival WEBSITE for more information on programing and schedule of events. And don’t forget to check our INVENTORY for any available lodging while Telluride hosts the Telluride Film Festival!