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The Coen brothers, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford are among those to be feted at the 40th annual Telluride Film Festival, which will feature the world premieres of Jason Reitman's "Labor Day" and Ralph Fiennes' "The Invisible Woman." Prestige titles from the 2013 festival circuit so far have been curated for the weekend as well, including Alexander Payne's "Nebraska," J.C. Chandor's "All is Lost" and the Coens' "Inside Llewyn Davis."
Following a very well-received opening day premiere today at the Venice Film Festival, Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" will make a stop in the Colorado mountains before moving on to the Toronto Film Festival next week, as will Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin," Gia Coppola's "Palo Alto" and John Curran's "Tracks." Other films looking for an early splash at Telluride before moving to the Toronto fest include Ritesh Batra's "The Lunchbox" and "Tim's Vermeer," from magician Raymond Teller of Penn and Teller fame, as well as the Reitman and Fiennes premieres.
The 40th annual fest is dedicated to the memory of filmmaker Les Blank, film critic Roger Ebert, producer and sports entrepreneur George Gund and author and filmmaker Donald Richie, all of whom passed away in 2013.
With "Inside Llewyn Davis," the Coen brothers are making their first-ever trip to Telluride, believe it or not. Festival programmers are taking advantage of the occasion by staging one of the festival's three Silver Medallion tributes for the sibling filmmakers alongside their music collaborator on the film, T Bone Burnett. Meanwhile, with "All is Lost" set to land Robert Redford in the awards race and potentially garner him his first Oscar nomination for acting in 40 years, the Sundance Institute founder and all around Hollywood legend will be toasted with a tribute as well.
Though rumors swirled around other potential high profile fetes for the likes of Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern or Kate Winslet, the festival stuck with its identity of shining a proud light on lesser-known work from vital voices on the world cinema stage. The third tribute, therefore, will go to filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof ("Iron Island," "The White Meadows"), a brave critic of the systematic oppression of individuals in Iran. Rasoulof's latest film, "Manuscripts Don't Burn," will also play at the festival.
Receiving a Special Medallion this year will be Alejandro Ramirez, CEO of Mexico's Cinépolis movie theater chain -- the fourth-largest theater chain in the world, run with an eye to how the movies can address poverty in both his country and his home state of Michoacán. The Special Medallion is an honor reserved annually for a hero of cinema, be it an organization or an individual, that preserves, honors and presents great movies. Past recipients include the Criterion Collection, HBO, Ted Turner and Leonard Maltin.
For each of the past 25 years, the film festival directors have selected a Guest Director to serve as a key collaborator in TFF programming decisions, bringing new ideas and overlooked films to light. To celebrate the 40th anniversary, six past participants return with new programs. They are authors Don DeLillo, Phillip Lopate, Michael Ondaatje and Salman Rushdie, screenwriter Buck Henry and film scholar B. Ruby Rich. Their programs will feature the 50th anniversary of the Zapruder film, Mike Hodges' Michael Crichton adaptation "The Terminal Man" and Chris Marker's "La Jetée," among other treats.
Another key figure of Telluride's past, Francis Ford Coppola (one of the first annual fest's tributees), will also be on hand this year. With Alberto Fuguet's "Rumble Fish" appreciation "Locations: Looking for Rusty James" set to play in the Backlot section, Coppola will be on hand with the director to introduce a tandem screening at the outdoor Abel Gance cinema on Thursday night.
Also set to attend and participate in the festival's "Conversations" series are author Joyce Maynard, whose book "Labor Day" was adapted by director Jason Reitman and is set to premiere at the fest; "Nebraska" star Bruce Dern, poised to make a lead actor play on the awards season (more on that soon); and the Palme d'Or winning trio of "Blue is the Warmest Color" director Abdellatif Kechiche, Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos.
As previously reported, Telluride will be unveiling a new venue for its anniversary celebration: The Werner Herzog Theater. While the Chuck Jones represents cinema's joie de vivre, the Abel Gance its vision and ingenuity and the Le Pierre its unparalleled ability to connect, the Werner Herzog will demonstrate fearlessness and commitment, according to the festival. Herzog will have a classic film at the fest this year, 1972's "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (which won't be the recent BFI restoration but will be a new HD scan from the original negative done by Werner Herzog Film GmbH), as well as a new work, "Death Row," following on the heels of "Into the Abyss" two years ago.
Additionally, there will be other special presentations programmed by various figures in the Telluride community. Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker will pay tribute to his love of Italian westerns with a screening of Giulo Petroni's "Death Rides a Horse." Film critic David Thomson, meanwhile, will present a "true harbinger," he says, to Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" with William Dieterle's "Portrait of Jennie" starring Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten. Critic and curator Pierre Rissient (after whom Telluride's Le Pierre theater is named) will also present a small program that will include Bernard Girard's "Alfred Hitchcock Hour" episode "A Piece of the Action," starring a young Robert Redford.
As usual, the fest will pepper a number of short films -- this year from the likes of Bill Plympton, Jonaás Cuarón and Lynne Ramsay -- throughout the schedule preceding a number of screenings, as well as through the Barry Jenkins-curated Calling Cards program. One of these will be Disney's well-hyped Mickey Mouse short "Get a Horse!," which premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in June and will screen in 3D prior to "Gravity."
Finally, the Student Prints and Great Expectations programs, among other things, will fill out a packed holiday weekend with various other nuggets to be discovered by film lovers descending on the fest.
Still to be revealed are any number of "Sneak Previews" screenings of films officially set for premieres elsewhere (typically Toronto), reserved on the Telluride schedule with the usual hair-raising "TBA" notations. Rumors abound on what they could be, from Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners" to Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave."
We'll find out what they are and how a number of these films land with audiences soon enough as the 40th anniversary celebration of the ultimate cinephile film festival kicks off later today.
Check out the full Telluride line-up on the next page.
The 2013 Telluride Film Festival runs Aug. 29 - Sept. 2.
Everything: Telluride Film Festival 2013
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