Telluride Film Festival Report – Miracles, Mountains and Movies – Day 1

As I have done for every festival for a few years now, I tweet what I call my TweeViews, short snippets of initial thoughts on a movie as I just come out of the theater. I’ll expound on the tweets with a slightly more expansive review here. I have to say that I am happy with the extremely high quality films and performances I’ve been able to see so far. The miracles are still going strong.
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Telluride Film Festival Director Julie Huntsinger is repeating herself to everyone at the fest, “It’s a miracle we’re here.” And she isn’t kidding. The odds against it all coming together were steep and every shifting. But here we are and it seems the miracles are not just a metaphor.

Though there are a few film showings that wet the whistle for early attendees, the opening day’s festivities traditionally start off with the Opening Night Feed taking over the main drag through town with an outdoor meal open to all passholders. Coming out of the Patron’s preview showing I was met with a mountain shower of light, but, persistent rain. But as if by magic, exactly at 5pm, the start time of the Feed, the rain stopped and the festivities could commence without interruption.

Long time festival goers have learned to adapt, bringing the necessary rain gear and extra clothing the ever changing mountain weather may bring. What’s really important is getting your Q (the card that sets your place in line while waiting to get into the films,) and seeing films.

As I have done for every festival for a few years now, I tweet what I call my TweeViews, short snippets of initial thoughts on a movie as I just come out of the theater. I usually tag them with the hashtag of the appropriate festival, but, I must be rusty because on the first three from day one’s fare I forgot the hashtag. I’ll expound on the tweets with a slightly more expansive review here. I have to say that I am happy with the extremely high quality films and performances I’ve been able to see so far. The miracles are still going strong.

ENCOUNTER

Michael Pearce was able to adapt Joe Barton’s script into an every shifting, but, constantly flowing story. Seamlessly transitioning through seeming genre after genre and keeping the audience on its toes trying to imagine what’s coming next and delivering something better at each turn. The power of family runs throughout the core of this film and makes it realistically believable even through the scariest moments.

Press still from ENCOUNTER

Press still from ENCOUNTER

Of course the performance delivered by Riz Ahmed as the father was outstanding, heartfelt and sometimes scary. But a wonderful surprise was how well the quality level was matched by the two younger actors Lucian-River Chauhan and Aditya Geddada. This movie will not fade away come awards season.

CYRANO

As a perfect compliment to the visual storytelling and dialog, the music provided by composers Aaron and Bryce Dessner and lyricists Matt Berninger and Carin Besser melded seamlessly into the story. What could easily devolved into camp or stagey instead transcended into a realm of cinema unto its own. It defies easy classification except by calling it a great film.

I have to admit, I’ve never liked Joe Wright’s previous work, though could see his artistry. I feel that Cyrano is perfectly balanced in his hands, through the dreamy cinematography of Seamus McGarvey. I have no doubt that this film is Oscar worthy in several categories, especially for the mastery of the craft by Peter Dinklage.

BERGMAN ISLAND

Since I’m admitting things about my predilections for directors, I’ll state here I’m a very big fan of Mia Hansen-Lve’s previous works. And if you like her films you’ll love this one. If you are unfamiliar with her work recognize that her style is not a mainstream audience type of film. Expect a languid, very French style that allows the characters breathing room to experience the emotions and evolutions they’re going through. On quick glance some could mistake it for a Ingmar Bergman travelogue, some could miss all the subtle playing with the medium Hansen-Lve executes with a deft touch. It’s easy to get lulled into missing all the complexity within a film where so little seems to be happening. Once you start to realize the depth of storytelling being presented before your eyes, you’ll likely become a fan too. I can’t wait for her next one.

More to come from the Telluride Film Festival soon. Until then, keep looking for the miracles.


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