Saturday, June 16, 2012

Best of the Week/Major Studio Wants to Play/

Good Saturday morning from Santa Fe!



As I reported in this space back on Mar. 6, the guest director for TFF #38 is British author Geoff Dyer.  The official announcement began leaking yesterday and then the press release from Telluride was emailed overnight.  Here's the official release:

BERKELEY, CA – Telluride Film Festival, presented by National Film Preserve LTD., is thrilled to announce its 2012 Guest Director, Geoff Dyer. The award-winning writer is set to select a series of films to present at the 39thTelluride Film Festival running over Labor Day Weekend, August 31 – September 3, 2012. The Guest Director program is sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Festival directors Julie Huntsinger, Tom Luddy and Gary Meyer annually select one of the world’s great film enthusiasts to join them in the creation of the Festival’s program lineup. The Guest Director serves as a key collaborator in the Festival’s programming decisions, bringing new ideas and overlooked films to Telluride.

“I’ve always been a fan of Geoff’s writing,” said Tom Luddy, co-founder and co-director of Telluride Film Festival. He and I were introduced while he was writing his book Zona, an in-depth exploration of Andrei Tarkovsky’s filmStalker. Around that time Sight & Sound asked Geoff what his five favorite books on film were. His top choice was David Thomson’s A Biographical Dictionary of Film in its first edition. The revised second, third, fourth and fifth editions were picks two, three, four and five. His answer convinced me that he and I are on the same wavelength film-wise. Zona is, in my opinion, one of the best books ever written on a single film. I’ve had a wonderful time dialoguing with him about his film selections and know we have another winner in our series of Guest Directors.”

British writer Geoff Dyer is the author of four novels: Paris TranceThe SearchThe Colour of Memory, and, most recently, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi; two collections of essays, Anglo-English Attitudes and Working the Room; and five genre-defying titles: But BeautifulThe Missing of the SommeOut of Sheer RageYoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It and The Ongoing Moment. 

A collection of essays from the last twenty years entitled Otherwise Known as the Human Condition was published in the US in April 2011 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism in March 2012.

Dyer’s new book Zona: A Book about a Film about a Journey to a Room, was published in February 2012 byCanongate, UK and in March 2012 by Pantheon, US. The book takes the reader through the film Stalker by the great Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, and, like the film itself, confronts the most mysterious and enduring questions of life and how to live. Dyer guides his readers on a 200-page shot by shot exploration of the film and his own personal obsession with cinema.

“I'm very conscious of the honour of being the latest in a long line of very distinguished guest directors at a great festival, but I'm even more conscious of the pleasure I'm already having (discovering new films, re-watching old favourites and discovering if they have stood up to the test of time),” said Dyer.  “Even more than the honour and the pleasure, though, I'm glad finally to be putting an end to the envy I felt whenever I met people who'd just come back from Telluride and insisted on telling me that they'd had the most wonderful time of their lives. I'm no stranger to having a good time over the Labour Day weekend: I used to go to Burning Man and was quite evangelical about it. I fully expect to be as passionate a convert to Telluride.’”     
Dyer’s awards are as follows:  But Beautiful winner of the 1992 Somerset Maugham Prize and shortlisted for theMail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize;
Out of Sheer Rage finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, US; Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It winner of the 2004 W H Smith Best Travel Book Award;
The Ongoing Moment winner of the ICP Infinity Award for Writing on Photography;
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi winner of the 2009 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Best Comic Novel;
Otherwise Known as the Human Condition winner of the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism
Other honors include the Lannan Literary Fellowship, 2003;
Winner of the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 2006;
GQ Writer of the Year Award, 2009
In keeping with Telluride Film Festival tradition, Dyer’s film selections, along with the rest of the Telluride lineup will be kept secret and unveiled on Opening Day, August 31, 2012.

Past Guest Directors include Caetano Veloso, Michael Ondaatje, Alexander Payne, Salman Rushdie, Peter Bogdanovich, B. Ruby Rich, Phillip Lopate, Errol Morris, Bertrand Tavernier, John Boorman, John Simon, Buck Henry, Laurie Anderson, Stephen Sondheim, G. Cabrera Infante, Peter Sellars, Don DeLillo, J.P. Gorin, Edith Kramer and Slavoj Zizek.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has provided continued generous support to Telluride Film Festival’s Guest Director series making 2012 the fifth consecutive year the Academy has awarded a $50,000 grant to underwrite the program. The Academy Foundation – the Academy’s cultural and educational wing – annually distributes more than $1 million to film scholars, cultural organizations and film festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad. The Foundation also presents the Academy’s rich assortment of screenings and other public programs each year.

For more information or to download an image of Geoff Dyer, please visit:

39th Festival passes are now available at

Next year Telluride Film Festival will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary, scheduled for August 29 – September 2, 2013.  To commemorate this special occasion an additional day has been added to the usual four-day Festival, making room for a five-day bounty of special programming and festivities. Passes will be available for purchase beginning in March, 2013. 

Here's what I reported on Mar.6:

TFF #39 Has a Guest Director:

Well placed sources report that it will be British author Geoff Dyer as guest director of the 39th edition of the Telluride Film Festival.

Amazon search result for Geoff Dyer:

Barnes and Noble search result:

And then further confirmation came on Mar. 19:


I reported in this space 12 days ago that I believed that I had uncovered reliable evidence that this year's Telluride Film Festival guest director would be British author Geoff Dyer.  Now comes confirmation from none other than TFF co-founder Tom Luddy who was present at a reading by the author in the San Fran Bay Area last Thursday night.  Luddy was interviewed by The El Cerrito Patch which reported the following:

"In what may be a world scoop for El Cerrito Patch, Luddy confided to the audience that Dyer will be the guest director this year for the 39th Telluride festival. Luddy's revelation elicited audience applause. "We haven't officially announced that because we'd like to have a press release to announce the fact a little bit later in the year," Luddy said. The guest director selects six of the films."

Nice try Patch, but readers found that info in this space on March 6.  Still, good to see the confirmation this soon after I dropped the story.  Frankly I thought I was going to have to wait until the official announcement which is likely to be in June.

You can see the entire El Cerrito Patch article here:

Here's Anne Thompson's/Thompson on Hollywood's take on the announcement:

So there you have it...Geoff Dyer is your 2012 Guest Director.


Tucked into the press release at the very end is this nugget; the festival will be 5 days long next year to celebrate the milestone.  All I can say is yippee!  Another day of heaven is more than I could ask for.


One of the best Oscarologist sites around has their first pass at predictions up as of yesterday.  Kris Tapley and Guy Lodge have collaborated to get their first list together over at InContention/HitFix.  Among their prognostications are included such potential Telluride 2012 fare as:
 "Anna Karenina", "Argo", "Life of Pi", "The Master"' "Amour", "Rust and Bone", "Hyde Park on Hudson", and MTFB nudge "Six Sessions".

Check their first predix and their analysis as they fearlessly make them here:


Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" continues to be positioned in ways that foster my belief that it will play as a part of the Telluride 2012 program.  The latest news came yesterday as Sony Pictures Classics announced that it will be released stateside on Nov. 16th.

Here's the story from The Playlist:

"Rust and Bone's" IMDb page is here:


Another Cannes film that came into view as a possible/probable Telluride choice is Pablo Larrain's "No" starring Gael Garcia Bernal.  I really think that this also makes the TFF #39 program. has a look at the film here:

"No's" IMDb page is here:

MAJOR WANTS TO PLAY's Pete Hammond posted a story yesterday that focused primarily on the opening of the L.A. film fest but it also included a number of references to this year's Telluride fest as the TFF crew was in L.A. host a TFF-centirc soiree.  The article includes references to likely TFF choices "Rust and Bone" and "Amour".  Perhaps the most intriguing Telluride note came in the last paragraph of Hammond's post:

"Meanwhile the LAFF isn’t the only film festival action taking place this week in Los Angeles. The Telluride Film Festival threw a party at the London Hotel on Sunset the night before the LAFF launch to tout their upcoming Labor Day weekend 39th edition of a fest that grows in importance every year as a key start to awards season. Fest directors Gary Meyer, Tom Luddy and Julie Huntsinger are still putting the program together and, as is the custom, won’t announce it in advance.  But it’s clear this fest which draws Oscar-hopefuls from the likes of SPC, Searchlight, The Weinstein Company, Focus  and others has also attracted the attention of the major studios with eyes on Oscar this year.  At least one of them was busy showing their wares to the Telluride honchos this week in hopes of making the cut."

Which leads to a couple of points:

1) Which studio and what films?

2) It's not that the majors don't play Telluride, but their participation is usually a small part of the festival.  One wonders if this bit of news signals a larger presences for 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Universal etc.

3) And finally, you have to believe that Hammond's line "a fest that grows in importance every year as a key start to awards season." (which is something I have been saying the last five years) is reflected by a greater desire from the majors to be included on the Telluride bill of fare.

Have a great weekend.  More later...

Follow me on Twitter @Gort2

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