Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Familiar TFFer Will Lead Us / The Distributors: A24 / Adding to Tuesday's Fox Searchlight Analysis

Good Thursday Film Fans!


If you're as glued to Twitter as I usually am and you pay attention to Telluride Film news via that media, then you almost certainly already know that Telluride #44 has a Guest Director.

The word came via press release email yesterday that director Joshua Oppenheimer will Guest Direct for the 2017 edition of TFF.

Ironically, I mentioned Oppenheimer's first appearance at Telluride in last Tuesday's post as a part of my TFF history retrospective.  Tuesday's review was for the 24th TFF in 1997.  Oppenheimer presented The Entire Story of the Louisiana Purchase that year.

Most recently he has presented both The Look of Silence (2014) and The Act of Killing (2012) at the fest.

Here's the full text of the press release from TFF:

BERKELEY, CA – Telluride Film Festival, presented by National Film Preserve LTD., is proud to announce its 2017 Guest Director, Joshua Oppenheimer. The award-winning documentarian is set to select a series of films to present at the 44th Telluride Film Festival running over Labor Day Weekend, September 1-4, 2017.

Festival organizers 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. In keeping with Telluride Film Festival tradition, Oppenheimer’s film selections, along with the rest of the Telluride lineup, will be kept secret until Opening Day.

“The Guest Director program is one of the most essential and wonderful parts of our festival,” said Telluride Film Festival executive director Julie Huntsinger. “Joshua has been a part of the SHOW with several of the incredible films he has made in the past, and now as our Guest Director. His rare combination of intelligence and down-to-earth understanding of humanity will make for a remarkable presentation of films our audience will not want to miss. Further gilding the lily, FilmStruck has joined us as the sponsor of this selection. We are beyond fortunate with this terrific combination of cinematic genius.”

Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer was born in the US in 1974 and studied filmmaking at Harvard University. Oppenheimer is best known for The Act of Killing (Telluride 2012) and The Look of Silence (Telluride 2014). The Act of Killing (2014 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary) was named Film of the Year in 2013 by the Guardian and the Sight and Sound Film Poll. It won 72 international awards, including a BAFTA, a European Film Award and an Asia-Pacific Screen Award. The Look of Silence (2016 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary) premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the FIPRESCI award, and went on to receive another 70 prizes, including an Independent Spirit Award, the IDA Award for Best Documentary Feature, a Gotham Award, and three Cinema Eye Honors. His early shorts have recently been re-released online and on DVD, including The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase, which premiered at Telluride in 1997. Joshua Oppenheimer was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2014. Oppenheimer is a partner at Final Cut for Real in Copenhagen, and Artistic Director of the Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University of Westminster in London.

“You stumble from a cinema into Telluride’s thin air, touched in ways you never imagined possible,” commented Oppenheimer. “You turn to a total stranger to share a thought unthinkable only two hours before. What happened? In the mirror of a great film, you confronted truths from which you normally avert your eyes. You recognised yourself in those delicate, mysterious moments that defy words yet make us human. Telluride's movies are empathy machines, inviting us to find ourselves in people we’d never otherwise know. Julie Huntsinger and Tom Luddy’s annual selection is driven by such curiosity and humanity that you cannot leave Telluride without feeling the responsibility and pain and love that comes with compassion. We emerge connected, reminded that self-absorption ultimately leaves us isolated and fearful. There is no greater privilege than joining Tom and Julie as this year’s guest director, sharing with Telluride’s audience the films that give me the greatest courage, and teach me to practice the widest empathy.”

Past Guest Directors include Volker Schlöndorff , Rachel Kushner, Guy Maddin, 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 Žižek.

For more information about Telluride Film Festival, visit


One of the newest distribution companies to the Telluride experience is A24 and though they are new to TFF, relatively speaking, and though they haven't screened a large number of films at the fest, their presence has made a lot of noise, especially the last two years.

Here's the entire A24 footprint which only begins its T-ride time in 2012:

2016: Moonlight
2015: Room
2014:  _____
2013: Under the Skin
2012: Ginger and Rosa

Brie Larson earned a Best Actress Oscar for 2015's Room and the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay.

Then there's last year's Moonlight which picked up three Oscars for Best Picture, Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay.  It was also nominated for five others including Direction and Supporting Actress.

That's a very impressive run in an incredibly short time.

My take is that A24 likes getting their product into Telluride and Telluride likes having it there.  As you can see, however, the outfit hasn't ever placed more than a single film in a year in their limited time there and, as you can see above, in 2014 A24 wasn't in T-ride at all.

But could this be the year that the firm lands more than a single title?

Here's the rundown of current A24 films that seem to have a shot at Labor Day:

A Prayer Before Dawn/Sauvaire:  Played at Cannes as a part of the Midnight Screening program where it got a respectable 6.28 average critical rating according to Reini Urban's compilation of Cannes critics.  Chances of it playing seem slight to me.  Chances: 15%.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties/Mitchell.  Another Cannes presentation shown out of competition that had middling critical reception- 5.61 on the Urban compilation.  It could pop at Telluride but I have doubts.  Chance: 15%.

The Killing of a Scared Deer/Lanthimos:  The third A24 film that played Cannes- in the main competition category where it won Best Screenplay.  This coming on the heels of writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos' Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay last year for The Lobster.  Although the Urban combo score was 5.96, its Metacritic score was a solid 84.  I could actually see this making a play at T-ride.  Chances: 50%.

Cannes clip of The Florida Project via YouTube

The Florida Project/Baker:  Regular readers of MTFB know that I am high on this film's chances to play Telluride in light of its performance at Cannes.  It was the third most widely praised film critically at Cannes in any section with an 8.05 combo rating from Urban and a 91 Metacritic score. Sean Baker grabbed a lot of buzz in 2015 for his Tangerine and I expect A24 is going to be working hard to get Willem Dafoe some awards season attention for Best Supporting Actor.  All of that and my intuition makes me think The Florida Project might be heading to Colorado.  Chances: 65%.

Woodshock/Mulleavys:  The one film on the list that A24 didn't play at Cannes.  Kirsten Dunst stars in what looks pretty trippy.  At least that's the way the trailer looks:

I think it looks interesting but I also think it's how A24 looks at approaching Telluride now.  Chances 20%.

And if you were wondering about the Safdie's Good Time with Robert Pattinson; it's set to open in August.

So, it seems to me that your two best A24 best are The Florida Project and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.


I was perusing  Nancy Tartiglione's post at Deadline earlier today for nuggets that might have popped up in 20th Century Fox's presentation at CineEurope in Barcelona.  A sentence or two caught my eye as FS Exec VP Rebecca Kearey is quoted as suggesting serious festival plays for Martin McDonagh's Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water.  

Here's the direct quote from the post:

Those were joined by Fox Searchlight titles Battle Of The SexesGoodbye Christopher Robin , Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape Of Water. Of the latter two, Searchlight EVP of International Marketing & Distribution Rebecca Kearey said they would be playing at many of the fall festivals.

After seeing that, I'm inclined to bump both films' chances of a Telluride play up 5 points from Tuesday's analysis.  So Ebbing goes from 40% to 45% and Shape of Water from from 35% to 40%. I'm leaving Battle of the Sexes at 55% and Goodbye Christopher Robin at 45% for now.

Meanwhile, Pete Hammond from Deadline dropped his belief that Battke of the Sexes has, what he calls a 99% chance to play Telluride.  He also suggested in a story yesterday his belief that Alexander Payne will have Downsizing at TFF #44.  Check out Hammond's story here.


I was reading this story from The Hollywood Reporter yesterday about David Lynch attending the Lucca Film Festival in Tuscany and the fact that he'll be doing some presentations of Twin Peaks;The Return (through seven episodes now on Showtime) and I was reminded that Lynch revealed the first two episodes at Cannes prior to their Showtime presentations.

It also reminded me that I have a theory that master of weirdness might make a return this year to Telluride.  Hear me out...or, I guess, read me out.

Lynch used to be a fairly serious Telluride regular.  As best I can tell Lynch was in Telluride in 1986 with Blue Velvet and Eraserhead.  Screened some of Twin Peaks in 1989 (though only Mark Frost and Michael Ontkean are listed as attending with the show).  Industrial Symphony in 1990, again with no Lynch listed as attending. Lynch received a Telluride Tribute in 1999 complete with screenings of The Straight Story.  In 2001, TFF reportedly "snuck" Mulholland Drive.  I think the last time a Lynch film played the festival was as an executive producer on Werner Herzog's My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done in 2009 as a sneak preview.

That's a pretty impressive run of Telluride screenings.

Sooo... how about screening the last two episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return at TFF #44?

They're both set to screen on Showtime on Sunday, Sept. 3rd.  Maybe we should kick off the weekend Friday with those two episodes back to back.

It's a thought.

That's a wrap for Thursday.  More tomorrow.


TWITTER @Gort2 (and follow me there as well)

FACEBOOK Message me on FB MTFB's Facebook Page


No comments: