Telluride Film Festival’s use of the title ‘The Show’ for its new feature film programming came from the sign in front of the Sheridan Opera House, with the idea, co-founder Tom Luddy explains, of showing new work within a film-historic context.

Telluride’s 38th Festival Underway in Colorado

Jackson Scarlett September 2, 2011

Berkeley-programmed Festival is a favorite for cinephiles; features Caetano Veloso as 2011 Guest Director.

The Telluride Film Festival, an annual launchpad for fall films that unfolds over Labor Day weekend in the mountain town of Telluride, Colorado, announced its lineup yesterday. Highlights of 2011's program include tributes to George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and French comedy legend Pierre Étaix; new films by David Cronenberg (A Dangerous Method) and British artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen (Shame); and an exceptionally curated showcase of forward-thinking shorts and special presentations by guest director Caetano Veloso.

The festival lineup, released only 24 hours before the first screening, includes over 25 new feature films from an enviable roster of highly recognizable contemporary directors and promising newcomers, in addition to six films chosen by guest director Veloso, as well as shorts, student films, exhibits, book and poster signings and behind-the-scenes movie portraits of artists, musicians and filmmakers.

Familiar names appear in force at this year's festival, many turning their attention to matters of history and legacy. Hungarian auteur Béla Tarr's, The Turin Horse presents a stunning black-and-white portrait of the six days after Friedrich Nietzsche allegedly intervened in the beating of a carriage horse outside of his winter home in Turin in 1889. Highly influential dancer-turned-choreographer Pina Bausch is celebrated in glowing 3–D in Wim Wenders' Pina. Living in a Material World Martin Scorsese's three-and-a-half hour George Harrison biopic, revisits Beatles' lore from a fresh perspective. Arthouse mainstay Werner Herzog's Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life follows more recent history, quietly investigating the nature of sadness, death and mourning in the case of a small-town triple murder in suburban Texas.

War and stuggle prevail as themes through the festival, both on political and personal levels. Bay area-based Micha X. Peled's documentary Bitter Seeds tracks the vicious cycle of poverty and disappointment spurred by the introduction of genetically modified seed to the Indian market. Political incisive Iranian drama A Separation, winner of Berlin's Golden Bear award for best film, lays bare cultural tensions between the countries ancient laws and modern citizenry. Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne's Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner, The Kid With a Bike poetically illuminates the daily life of an 11-year-old boy abandoned by his father. Passerby (Eryk Rocha) intriguingly blends documentary and fiction to tell the tale of a single man alone in the city with only the company of his radio.

Guest Director Caetano Veloso selects six films, three exploring the limits of France's New Wave: The Apartment (Jean-Luc Godard, USA, 1960), Vivre Sa Vie (Godard, France, 1962), and Les Grandes Manoeuvers (René Clair, France, 1955), and three celebrating South America's rich culture: Nordeste: Cordel, Repente E Canção (Tânia Qaresma, Brazil, 1975), Aniceto (Leonardo Favio, Argentina, 2008), and Black Gold, White Devil (Glauber Rocha, Brazil, 1964).

This year's Silver Medallion tributes honor modern heavyweights George Clooney and Tilda Swinton, along with Jaques Tati-era contemporary and icon Pierre Étaix. All three will appear to receive the award in person, accompanied by a selection of film clips and onstage interviews. Swinton's latest work, Lynne Ramsey's We Need To Talk About Kevin (England, 2011) will screen following the award ceremony while Clooney's, Alexander Payne-helmed The Descendants (USA, 2011, from a book penned by one-time San Franciscan Kaui Hart Hemmings) will screen throughout the fest. The Special Medallion award, awarded yearly to “an organization or individual that preserves, honors and presents great movies,” will go to BFI's venerated cinema magazine Sight & Sound, which will screen Alan Clarke's social-realist Penda's Pen (England, 1974) as part of the festival.

This year's spotlight presentations focus on "Style," and in a lesser regard, fashion, screening Becoming Bert Stern (Shannah Laumeister, USA, 2011), a biopic of the seminal commercial photographer featuring a post-film appearance by its subject, and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel (Lisa Immordino-Vreeland, USA., 2011), a lovingly constructed documentary composed of archival footage, photos and interviews with the fashion editor and cult figure.

For more information, visit telluridefilmfestival.org.

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