Friday, June 28, 2013

TFF #40 Ten Bets #1/Fox Searchlight at Telluride/Invisible will be Visible/Remembering Bert Stern

Good Friday to everyone.


For the third straight year here is the first stab at guessing ten films that will play at Telluride this year.

Last year's initial "Ten Bets" had 5 films that actually made the grade: "Amour", "Rust and Bone", "No", "Midnight's Children" and "Hyde Park on Hudson".  The 2011 list was actually much better with 8 of that initial list showing at the SHOW: "The Descendants:, "The Artist", "The Kid with a Bike", "Le Havre", Restored : "A Trip to the Moon", "Into the Abyss", "We Have to Talk About Kevin" and "Shame".

So, with hope that I can return to my 2011 form, here are "Ten Bets":

1) "Nebraska": Alexander Payne's road dramedy with Bruce Dern and Will Forte.  Payne's "Descendants" was the #1 bet to start 2011's "Ten Bets" and his follow up starts in the same position for 2013.

2) "The Past":  My bet is that Asghar Farhadi (and SPC) return to Telluride with this relationship drama follow-up to his brilliant "A Separation".  Berenice Bejo stars...and could be a Best Actress contender.  Perhaps she'll come to T-ride as her husband Michel Hazanavicius did with "The Artist" 2 years ago.

3) "Daughter of the Dawn":  A silent film restoration starring a cast of Native Americans that was reported as set to play Telluride last August. Telluride regular and hondo Ken Burns is mentioned in the Indian Country News story as helping with distribution.  The story is here:

I also have to mention that its connection to my home state of Oklahoma makes me a little prideful.

4) "Aguirre: The Wrath of God": Friend of the blog Christopher Schiller mentioned this as a possibility and it makes too much sense.  The new restoration of the 1972 film played at Cannes and, of course, was directed by Telluride legend Werner Herzog.  Additionally, Herzog will have the new 650 seat theater (hockey pavilion converted to cinema) named in his honor as part of this year's 40th wing ding.  What do you bet that "The Zog" (my name for the new theater) opens with this as its first film?  Sounds about right to me.

5) "The Immigrant": James Gray directs and co-wrote the script.  It stars Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner and Joaquin Phoenix.  TFF #39 attendees saw a few minutes of this last year as part of the tribute to Cotillard with Mr. Gray in attendance.  My bet is that they had this year's fest slot settled on at that point.  Further evidence?  Gray's presence at Telluride's Hollywood soiree a few weeks back.

6) "Life Itself":  Based on Roger Ebert's autobiography you can bet that with Mr. Ebert's passing and his long association with TFF in mind,  that the festival programmers have nabbed the Martin Scorsese produced documentary for The SHOW.  Here's the original story that flat out says it will be a part of this year's program:

7) "The Invisible Woman":  Earlier this week as I was analyzing Sony Pictures Classics slate of potential films I mentioned Ralph Fiennes "The Invisible Women" was iffy since its announced release date is Feb. 2014 in Britain.  My speculation was that seemed like a long time after TFF...but I did conclude by saying that I hadn't completely ruled it out.  Good for me as you will see below.  For this spot in the blog...let's just say, the film that focuses on Charles Dickens and his secret lover looks likely now

8) "Labor Day": I'm betting that Jason Reitman returns.  After "Juno" and "Up in the Air" both played here, Reitman's last film "Young Adult" did not.  I'm guessing that Reitman returns to the San Juans with this latest film that stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

9) "12 Years a Slave":  I admit, my guess here is based purely on the fact that Steve McQueen's previous efforts, "Hunger" and "Shame" both appeared at Telluride.  It's also in the Fox Searchlight wheelhouse.  A lot of smart people think it will play Venice and I haven't found anyone, besides myself, who has it going to Telluride.  But remember, "Shame" played both Venice and T-ride.  So put it at #8 and hope.

10) "Like Father, Like Son":  Well received at Cannes and under the Sundance Selects umbrella.  The film focuses on the choice one man must make when it is discovered that his son was accidentally switched at birth and that another boy is actually his own.

On the edge:  Sundance Selects other Cannes films including Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Color", "The Selfish Giant" and "Young and Beautiful".  SPC's "Only Lovers Left Alive", "The Lunchbox" and "For No Good Reason".  Bertrand Tavernier's new film "Quai d'Orsay", Errol Morris's Donald Rumsfeld documentary "The Unkonwn Known".  TWC's "One Chance", "Philomena" and "Salinger".  Also, don't forget "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner's film directing debut "You Are Here".

Let's see how it plays out over the next couple of months.


Fox Searchlight has a hit and miss history with the Telluride Film Festival over the past decade.  It's been a substantial player some years and has been absent in others.  Here's the FS presence at T-ride for the past ten years:

2004: Kinsey
2005: Bee Season
2006: The Last King of Scotland, The Namesake
2007: Juno, The Savages
2008: Slumdog Millionaire
2010: Never Let Me Go, 127 Hours, Black Swan, Millions
2011: Shame, The Descendants

13 films in ten years.  The highwater mark coming in 2010 with 4 films on the SHOW list but '03, '09 and '12 with no films at all.  Looking at their current lineup of films purportedly ready:

"12 Years a Slave"
"Black Nativity"
and "Baggage Claim"

Of them, only "12 Years" seems like a solid Telluride pick what with director Steve McQueen's past with the festival.  I think "Baggage Claim" is really unlikely.  "Black Nativity" is really an intriguing possibility.  It's described as a "contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes celebrated play" and is adapted and directed by Kasi Lemmons whose previous directing crdits include "Talk to Me", "The Caveman's Valentine" and "Eve's Bayou".  I could see this being on the TFF list.  Notice also, that Fox Searchlight hasn't gone two straight years without some presence at the SHOW.

Here are your chances:

"12 Years" 55%
"Black Nativity" 35%
"Baggage Claim" 10%


Ralph Fiennes "Invisible Woman" has always seemed like a possible Telluride film but, as I said above and earlier this week, its announced UK release date of Feb. 7, 2014 gave me pause.  However, I'm not pausing any more.  The London Daily Mail/Mail Online let slip yesterday that the film will play at TFF #40 with actress Felicty Jones in attendance.

Quoting directly from the stories last paragraph:

"The actress (Jones) will also be travelling to the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado for the world première of Ralph Fiennes’s film The Invisible Woman, about the secret affair between Charles Dickens and Nelly Ternan, whom she plays."

You can read the entire story here:

My only question is "Will Fiennes attend?"  I'm hoping that answer is "yes".


Here's a remembrance of the famed photographer and sometime film director that was a part of Telluride's salute to him two years ago: "Becoming Bert Stern".  He died on Tuesday.

His IMDb page is here:

Follow/Like Michael's Telluride Film Blog on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter @Gort2

More tomorrow...


Patrick Pringle said...

Mike, Just wanted to point out that though it makes imminent sense to have the Ebert documentary debut at TFF40, there is a note in the comment section of the story you linked on it purportedly from the production company making the film strongly disputing the idea that it would be at Telluride. Now that could be bluster as the company did not want to incur the wrath of the festival staff for blabbing so early but just thought I'd point that out.

Also what are your thoughts on Panahi's "Closed Curtain" coming out of Berlinale as a possibility for TFF40? Possibility or is the likelihood of "The Past" from Asghar Farhadi going to make a second Iranian directed film (even if one is in French), unlikely?

Michael Patterson said...

Thanks for the catch Patrick. I'll correct it in today's post. As to Panahi...I've thought "Closed Curtain" has a real chance to play. I think his story is compelling enough to get the film considered. I also don't think it'll make any difference if Farhadi's film is also on the program.