Monday, July 25, 2016

Torotno and Venice-What to Expect This Week / Rumors of Rumors, Wells' New Take and a Modified Ten Bets List / The Usual Suspects / Meyer Reports on the Summer

Welcome back from the weekend...sorry to say, that means this is Monday...


Two major film festivals that make their plays in the same time frame as Telluride will begin making announcements this week about the films that will make up their lineups.

The Toronto International Film Festival begins a series of weekly announcements tomorrow with its first wave of Galas and Special Presentations.  They'll continue with weekly announcements every Tuesday thereafter for a month.  The Venice Film Festival will announce the bulk of their lineups for various sections on Thursday.  However, Venice has been known to add a few films after their main reveal and that could certainly happen again this year.

If they continue to follow the protocol of the past couple of years, both Toronto and Venice will include, as a part of those announcements, the premiere status of every film they introduce.  Film detectives can then use the revelation of those statuses as a way to deduce, with a fair degree of certainty, whether or not a film will make a play at Telluride.

Up until these fests began doing that (and requiring distributors and film makers to reveal whether their film was playing at Telluride) the business of making Telluride predictions was till completely guesswork.  Now, any outlet can make the same deductions as I will and MANY OF THEM WILL.

The key words to look for this week will be:

World Premiere
International Premiere
North American (or European) premiere
Canadian Premiere

You also have to keep in mind other fests that have already occurred this year and what films played there: Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Karlovy Vary, Tribeca are all fests that likely have screened some of the films that will be revealed tomorrow or over the next few months.  Combine all these factors and you can get an idea what films will probably play Telluride.

For example, last year, TIFF announced in their initial lineup announcement that Room, Son of Saul, Anomalisa and Black Mass would all be "Canadian" premieres which allowed anyone who knew that status and the fact that those films hadn't played at any other festival earlier to deduce that they'd almost have to be playing T-ride...which, of course, they did.

Applied to this year, as another example,  if we see that Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply is a Toronto World Premiere or North American Premiere we will know that it is not playing The SHOW.

Also, keep in mind that as Toronto announces tomorrow, that they will also be aware of films that will be announced for Venice on Thursday.  Additionally, Venice's announcements are important because some films will play Telluride first and then Venice rather than the other way around. Anomalisa, Taj Mahal and Heart of a Dog did that last year.  In 2014, no film opened at Telluride first and then went to Venice (there were four).  In 2013, Palo Alto, Under the Skin and The Unknown Known played T-ride first.

Finally, I can tell you that the last ten years tell us that Telluride and Toronto, on average, will ultimately share 17.5 films after TIFF makes all their reveals.  Over that span, the overlap has varied from a low of 12 in 2008 to a high of 22 in 2011.

Venice and Telluride have an average share of 3.7 films over that same ten year span.  However, recent years (2012-2015) have averaged six films overlapping.   2008 was also the low year for the Venice/Telluride connection with no films making the trans-Atlantic jump.  The two fests shared a high of eight films with each other in both 2013 and 2015.

So...that's the nuts and bolts, friends.  Toronto announces live tomorrow morning at 10am EDT.  You can watch that announcement live at this link:

Venice announces Thursday.


You can tell that the fur is about to fly regarding the news to come out of Venice and Toronto this week as there is a good deal of buzz about what films could go where.  Over the weekend, I heard, saw, read or was contacted about three films that various sources are suggesting could be Telluride players.  Two of them are films that have been in posts as possible T-ride players but have never risen to the level of confidence enough to make any Ten Bets list (though one of them has been on the "close" list a time or two) The other, I have been dismissing as being a Sundance film and, as a result, unlikely to be a Telluride choice and it IS NOT Birth of a Nation.  I have added all three to last Friday's films that are "close" to making the Ten Bets list.  That's below.

Meanwhile, late last night Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere posted his thoughts about the emerging Telluride picture.  Wells writes that Birth of a Nation is out but that Manchester by the Sea is likely going to play Telluride.  He also says that Nocturnal Animals and Loving are both not going to play the SHOW and reiterates his already stated belief that Personal Shopper is off the T-ride list. He also rules out Silence, Rules Don't Apply and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

In addition to the above mentioned Manchester by the Sea Wells says Telluride is a landing spot for La La Land, Neruda and Arrival.  He suspects that The Salesman, Graduation and American Honey are probable as is Toni Erdmann.

You can see Wells' post in its entirety here:

One other interesting note.  None of the films Wells suggests are probable for Telluride would be screening there initially.  I have to believe that, as in past years, we'll almost certainly have some films that will be screening for the first time in public in a non-testing fashion.

By the way, both Hidden Figures and Ben Affleck's Live by Night have been test screening recently. Chew on that for a moment.

This week's Ten Bets has been modified for today's post with a revised "close" list.

10) The Unknown Girl
9) Arrival
8) Things to Come
7) American Honey
6) Moonlight
5) La La Land
4) The Salesman
3) Toni Erdmann
2) The Red Turtle
1) Fire at Sea

Close: Lion, Aquarius, Denial, A Monster Calls, 20th Century Women, Paterson, Dog Eat Dog, Manchester by the Sea, Bleed for This, The Sense of an Ending.


Every year I take a look at a list of humans that have had or continue to have a relationship with the Telluride Film Festival.  The list I keep has about 50 people on it and is loaded with directors mostly. There are a few actors sprinkled in there but my experience is that, if you're trying to figure out Telluride. your best plan is to look at distributors, directors and what plays at Cannes.

So, here's this year's assessment of The Usual Suspects that have projects that could conceivably make the Telluride's not all 50...

Pedro Almodovar-Julieta.  Has so much going for it.  SPC distributing, played at Cannes,  Almodovar is a past recipient of a tribute...but...Almodovar hasn't had a film play Telluride since 2006.  Chances: 40%

Andrea Arnold-American Honey.  Played Cannes.  A24 is ditrib.  Well regarded critically.  Chances 50%

Olivier Assayas-Personal Shopper.  Played Cannes, IFC Films is distrib. but split reviews at Cannes and Jeff Wells report that T-ride directors didn't care for the film make it unlikely.

Gael Garcia Bernal-Salt and Fire and Neruda.  The actor has two projects that could make the lineup. Werner Herzog's Salt and Fire and Pablo Larrain's Neruda.  Salt and Fire is probably a 50% chance and Neruda is a 40% chance.

Ken Burns-Defying the Nazis: The Sharp's War.  The PBS documentary is set to air on Sept. 9.  It wouldn't stun me if it screened.  Chances 60%.

The Dardenne Brothers-The Unknown Girl- The Dardennes are Telluride darlings but muted reaction to this film in Cannes has me scratching my head about its TFF #43 chances. Recent word that the brothers had cut seven minutes from the film didn't help my process.  I can't decide if that makes it more or less likely.  Still, it is the Dardennes, so I have chosen continue to include it in my Ten Bets. Chances-60%.

Francis Ford Coppola-Distant Vision.  Coppola was an early and often participant in Telluride and then stopped attending for many years.  Lately, however, he has come back.  His latest project is an experiment with what he calls "live cinema" and that he workshopped originally in my home state at Oklahoma City Community College.  He just recently produced another experiment with it at UCLA. I think it's possible that some version of it makes its way to Telluride.  Chances 50%. 

Werener Herzog- Salt and Fire is a narrative feature and stars the above-mentioned Gael Garcia Bernal and Michael Shannon.  In the past, I would have thought that a Herzog film was a slam dunk 100% easy "play" prediction but after last year's Herzog absence, I'm not quite as certain.  I'd love to get Michael Shannon into town.  Chances-50%

Laura Linney-Sully and Nocturnal Animals.  The actress and part time Telluride resident (and past TFF tirbute recipient) often has work make the fest: Hyde Park on Hudson, The Savages, Jindabayne. Sully could play, it opens Sept. 9 but I kind of doubt it.  Nocturnal Animals is more likely (after a Venice premiere).  Of course, you never know...maybe she'll be a double dip.  Chances-Sully 20%, Nocturnal Animals-35%

Mira Nair-The Queen of Katwe.  Nair has had some history with the fest but "Queen" is coming from Disney which has had a very limited relationship with the fest.  Chances-10%.

Alexander Payne-Wilson.  At one point Payne was going to direct the film but ended up producing. The film's distrib is Fox Searchlight.  I've consequently had it on my Ten Bets list most of the summer...but...recent rumblings suggest that it's not the lock I had expected.  Chances-10%.

Bill Pohlad-A Monster Calls.  Pohlad is a long time Tellruide friend and also a producer and director. His T-ride footprint has included 12 Years a Slave, Wild, Into the Wild.  He's a producer on A Monster Calls from distrib A24.  We could see it.  Chances-50%.

Lone Scherfig-We Happy Few.  The director hasn't played T-ride since 2009's An Education and this film may be the one I know the least about on the entire list. probably comes out of nowhere to make The SHOW.  Chances-20%.

Paul Schrader-Dog Eat Dog.  Schrader's film was reasonably well received in Cannes.  I actually think it has adecent shot at the lineup.  Chances- 55%.

Martin Scorsese-Bleed for This, Silence.  Scorsese's connection to the festival in recent years has been as a producer with docs: The 50 Year Argument, Living in the Material World, A Letter to Elia. There's good reason to believe that his producing credit will show up on a screen in Telluride for a feature  with Bleed for This.  Silence is another matter entirely.  I expect that if it plays a festival it'll be New York as either its centerpiece or closing night film.  Chances-Bleed for This 60%, Silence-10%

Bertrand Tavernier-A Journey Through French Cinema.  A documentary from frequent T-ride guest about French film.  Sounds like it's right down T-ride's alley.  It also played at Cannes and is under the wing of the Cohen Media Group which has been well repped at T-ride the last couple of years. This should maybe be on the Ten Bets list.  Chances-70%.

Wim Wenders-The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez.  Wenders has been a T-ride fixture in recent years and the fact that this film is generally thought to be "in" for Venice makes me think it's a good pick for Labor Day.  Chances-55%.

That's this year's look at The Usual Suspects.


Gary Meyer, who is a former co-director of the Telluride Film Festival and now runs the website, not surprisingly spent some of his summer thus far watching and occasionally offering mini-reviews of largely independent film at that website.

Thought you might like to take a look at some of what he's been up to here:

Gary looks at Life Animated, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Sing Street and many others in two separate articles that you can find there.

That's all for now.  With tomorrow's Toronto First Wave, there will probably be more than one post. Stay tuned...

Contact MTFB at:

OR on Twitter @Gort2

OR check out Michael's Telluride Film Blog on Facebook:

Or leave a comment...

No comments: