Thursday, July 7, 2016

Distribution: Open Road and Zeitgeist / Ken Burns, Tom Hanks and Defying Nazis / First 2016 Oscar Poker Talks Some Telluride

Good Thursday Everybody...


Using a baseball metaphor here on this Thursday as we round third base on distribution companies at Telluride and head toward home.  Today we'll examine Open Road Films and Zeitgeist Films. Tomorrow we'll bring the two week review of distributors home with a laundry list of players who are occasionally represented at T-ride.


Open Road didn't make an appearance at Telluride until the past two years but they have made a substantial impression in that time.  In 2014 they brought Jon Stewart's directing debut, Rosewater, to the fest and though the film wasn't universally embraced, it certainly made some noise.  Then last year, Open Road was back with Spotlight which was universally praised and went on to Oscar glory for Best Picture and Original Screenplay as well as another four nominations.

With that as your preamble, you'd think that they'd be primed for another big run at Telluride and perhaps they are.

Open Road has two films that could figure into the Telluride lineup for 2016.  The most attention grabbing is Oliver Stone's Snowden.  The film features Jopseh Gordon-Levitt as the NSA-secret exposing Edward Snowden.  It also stars Shailene Woodley and Nicolas Cage.  The film is dated to open Sept. 16th.

I've mentioned before that Stone has been to Telluride in the past with U-Turn in 1997.  That's a long time ago.  I'm also a little out off by the 9/16 date, although that's the same weekend that Black Mass had after screening last year.

I have thought that the film could play Venice and Telluride. The Sept. 16 date tells you it's not going to be playing Toronto.

Meanwhile, the other Open Road possibility is Bleed for This with Miles Teller starring as real life boxer Vinnie Pazienza.  The film is directed by relative newcomer Ben Younger.

It seems to me that neither film is a slam dunk for The SHOW but that either or both could make it owing to Open Road's success the past two years.


Snowden 40%
Bleed for This 40%


Zeitgeist has played five films at Telluride over the past nine years.

2007- Chris and Don: A Love Story, Jellyfish
2008- Tulpan
2013- The Galapagos Affair
2014- Diplomacy

This year sees the specialty house with three films that could land on the Telluride list:

Old Stone directed by Johnny Ma (played well at Berlin)
InnSaei directed by Hrund Gunnsteinsdottir and Kristin Olafsdottir
Theo Who Lived directed by David Schisgall.

Old Stone is a feature and both Innsaei and Theo Who Lived are documentaries about which little is known.

Old Stone would seem to have the best shot at Telluride, but because director Johnny Ma has Canadian ties, it could well be a Toronto only play.

Give all three films a 25% chance of making the Telluride lineup.

Tomorrow, a laundry list of distribution houses:


Telluride regular (and MTFB "Usual Suspect") Ken Burns is a staple at the festival and often, though not every year, he has a project that screens as a part of the fest's lineup including 2012's Central Park Five.  This year, Burns has a documentary ready that is set for its PBS debut on Sept. 9.  Defying the Nazis: The Sharp's War.  The film is narrated by Tom Hanks.

It wouldn't surprise me greatly if the film actually debuts in Telluride.

Check the trailer here:

Defying the Nazis: The Sharp's War trailer via YouTube

Also take a look at this story from Mothers and Critics:


Sasha Stone of Awards Daily and Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere have huddled up for their first Oscar Poker podcast for 2016 and in the course of their discussion they drop a few tidbits about Telluride.

The first is a glancing refernce to Telluride in the context of talking about the recently re-dated Ben Affleck film Live by Night.  The film was recently moved up by Warners to early January 2017 and there has been a good deal of speculation that Warners will release it in a limited fashion in December to qualify it for Oscar consideration.  The Telluride mention comes at about the 9:30 mark.

The duo also mentions Telluride 24 minutes in in regards to Damien Chazelle's La La Land.  It seems that both Wells and Stone feel that it's likely to make its bow at Venice on August 31.

They also spend a good chunk of time discussing Weinstein Company films Lion and HHhH both of which I have mentioned in terms of Telluride but Stone and Wells don't make that connection.  Their discussion of the two films happens about the 41 min. mark.

And finally, Wells re-iterates fairly strongly the notion that he espoused and we reported here June 27 that Olivier Assasyas' Personal Shopper is not going to play T-ride.  That comes near the end at the 57 min. mark.

Finally Stone and Wells more or less agree that they feel that there are six films that are out in front for the best picture Oscar at least perceptually at this point:

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
La La Land
Birth of a Nation

Here's the link to the Oscar Poker podcast:

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