A snapshot of Telluride finds blue skies the day before its September 3 opening in Colorado.

Telluride Unveils 37th Film Festival

Gianmaria Franchini September 3, 2010

The Telluride Film Festival, which runs annually on Labor Day weekend in Telluride, Colorado, and is programmed out of offices in Berkeley, California, announced its titles today. Highlights of the 2010 lineup include tributes to Peter Weir, Claudia Cardinale and Colin Firth, new documentaries by Errol Morris (Tabloid) and Ken Burns (The Tenth Inning), and special presentations by guest director Michael Ondaatje.

The roster, kept under wraps until 24 hours before the festival, includes 24 new feature films from 13 countries, in addition to six films chosen by guest director Ondaatje, as well as shorts, student films, exhibits, book and poster signings and behind-the-scenes movie portraits of artists, musicians and filmmakers.

Like one of guest director Ondaatje’s novels, where poetry and history are tangible and rise up out of unexpected places, the lineup unfolds in surprising ways. Two themes, not so diametrically opposed, screen side-by-side at Telluride this year: unsettling anxieties (over war, economic collapse and identity), and next to them, affirmations of art and life, imagination and film.

Mark Cousins’ documentary The First Movie, a portrait of an Iraqi village scarred by chemical weapons, was partially created by the area's own children. Shlomi Eldar's Precious Life follows a mother from Gaza, an Israeli reporter and a pediatrician as they struggle through personal loyalties and political boundaries to save the life of a child. Personal and historical narratives play out in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War in Dennis Villeneuve’s Incendies. In Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry, which may be less sentimental that its title suggests, a South Korean woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s cultivates a late-blooming interest in poetry.

Other films examine lives more or less ordinarily lived. Another Year is Mike Leigh’s take on the bittersweet truths of a successful marriage and botched romances. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful is said to balance contradictions of a good man and father mired in underworld crime. Bay Area filmmaker Charles Ferguson’s investigative documentary Inside Job looks at American greed and the collapse of Wall Street

Guest Director Michael Ondaatje presents six films: The Ascent (Laris Sheptiko, USSR, 1977); Confidence (István Szabó, Hungary, 1980); Fat City (John Huston, U.S., 1972); Here’s Your Life (Jan Troell, Sweden, 1966); The Hustler (Robert Rossen, U.S., 1961); and Mother Dao, the Turtlelike (Vincent Monnikendam, Netherlands, 1995).

Silver Medallion tributes are being awarded to Peter Weir, Claudia Cardinale and Colin Firth.  Screenings of their work, including Weir’s 1976 film Plumber are being shown, and the stunning Cardinale can be seen alongside a regal Burt Lancaster in Visconti’s The Leopard.  Firth appears in person, along with Tom Hooper and Geoffrey Rush, to present his new film, The King’s Speech. The Special Medallion award, given annually to organizations or individuals that "preserve, honor and present great movies," is going to to the UCLA Film and Television Archive, which in turn presents a collection of short and experimental works including Multiple Sidosis, A Date with Duke, a restoration of Red Shoes and the experimental short Wedlock.

A spotlight on Harutyun Khachatryan, an Armenian documentary filmmaker, screens two of his films, Border, which peers at the life of a village from the perspective of a refugee water buffalo, and Poet, about the creation of a statue of Armenian balladeer-poet Jivany.

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