40th Telluride Film Festival



It was only a few months ago that I heard about Telluride for the first time. I hosted at Pixar friend of a friend, a remarkable moviemaker and entrepreneur. I gave him a tour and we started talking about movies and festivals. He says: 'If I had to choose one festival, that would have to be Telluride'. 
It is very small, intimate, and yet the movies being shown are great. It is about the simple joy of sharing good movies in an amazing high-altitude setting.


And at the height of 9000 feet, Telluride in the Summer is just amazing. Nested at the bottom of a deep valley carved by the Saint Miguel river, surrounded by the rocky peaks of the Colorado mountains, this little town is a real gem. The views are breathtaking, even coming from a beautiful place such as the Bay Area. I stayed up in Mountain Village, a tiny town a couple of gondola rides away from Telluride. It allowed me to meet great people on the way, and to discover gradually the valley, which ends into old mines and stunning waterfalls.

Locals are incredibly friendly and interesting too. Telluride only has about 3500 inhabitants (up from 2200 in they year 2000), few of which were actually born there, but there are double that during this festival. It seems like most people came here to ski one day, and decided to never leave. I can see why. After a day or two, it was hard to walk around without crossing at every block with someone I met from the festival, or just in a bar. I was offered many drinks, just in exchange for some stories of my adventures around the world and at Pixar.

This year was the 40th anniversary of the Festival, and they extended it by one day, allowing visitors to see more screenings. There were around 50 entries, and it only physically possible to see about a quarter of them, so I had to carefully plan every day and night, asking for recommendations, trying to squeeze in as many as I could, and still be able to catch the happy hours and the late night parties. 

There were a number of actors, writers and directors here. I had drinks next to Penn and Teller. I crossed Ralph Fiennes (it was weird to see him without the digital nose we gave him when he played lord Voldemort). I watched and cheered Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor playing pool, I had a long chat with Michael Pollan and his lovely half, I hugged Alice Waters after the screening of Slow Food Story, and sat at a screening next to Michael Moore. I saw Brad Pitt and Robert Redford chilling and walking around town. No paparazzi showed up, which is why the atmosphere was so relaxed and friendly.

So what did I see? I was able to see a few features:
  • The Unknown Knowns: a documentary about the Rumsfeld doctrine.
  • Blue is the Warmest Color: a stunning 3 hours long story about a maturing teenager and her discovery about her sexuality and her feelings. Absolutely beautiful photography, lighting and camera work.
  • Under the Skin: a sinister sci-fi featuring Scarlet Johansson as an alien.
  • A Tribute to Robert Redford: a collection of clips from the movies Robert worked on.
  • Palo Alto: The first movie of Gia Coppola, about teenage life in the suburbs. 
  • Tim's Vermeer: a wonderful documentary about the attempt by a technologist to achieve the same lifelike paintings as the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer. One of my favourites in the festival.
  • 12 Years a Slave: a true story, by Steve McQueen, about a black free man from New England and his life as he is kidnapped and enslaved.
  • Tracks: another true story, about a lady who crossed the deserts of Western Australia with nothing but four camels and one dog.
  • Out of Love: a short documentary about a woman trying to understand her father and his five failed weddings, and to discover if and how that is going to mark her life and her own marriage.
  • Una Chanza Mas: another touching documentary about a troubled young man, seeking redemption through attempting to become a firefighter
  • The Lunch Box: here is another favourite of mine. A touching story set in India, about a mistaken lunch box delivery and the deep implications on the lives of the sender and the receiver.
  • Calling Cards: a heterogeneous collection of funny, heartbreaking, and thoughtful shorts.
It is Monday already. I cannot believe this is over already, it went so fast. 
This festival might well become a tradition for me.
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