Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Telluride Film Festival. The festival’s 40th edition took place from August 29th to September 2nd. A fifth day was added to what has traditionally been a four-day event, to celebrate the festival’s big anniversary. It was a memorable experience, I loved taking in the films at one of the nine theaters dotted around town and meeting other film festival attendees. Everyone was so excited to be there!
One of the reasons why Telluride is so popular among movie goers and film industry professionals is because of the unique, out of the way setting. This little mountain town is not very easy to get to and that helps to weed out the pesky paparazzi and celebrity stalkers. The Telluride Film Festival crowd take their movies very seriously. I met a few people who told me that they watched 5 to 6 movies a day. Many of them have been going to the festival for ten years or more. It was a delight to see old friends reconnecting at the airport the day we left for Telluride. It was clear that they plan their whole year around this incredible affair.
Aside from the fantastic films (Labor Day and The Lunchbox were my favorites), there was the gorgeous town itself. The epicenter of Telluride is Colorado Avenue and it looks straight out of an old western film. There are lots of historic brick buildings (the New Sheridan Hotel is a prime example), lampposts line the street with hanging flower pots and the fashion is very country casual (think lots of denim, plaid shirts and Frye boots). The locals are warm and used to visitors as Telluride is home to several festivals throughout the year. The easy-going atmosphere continues from host hospitality to life on the street. It is not unusual to be walking around town and suddenly find yourself beside a notable celebrity. I had the pleasure of meeting two directors this way: Michael Moore (he was waiting for a sandwich order at the bakery) and Jason Reitman (we shared a gondola ride up to the Chuck Jones’ Cinema). Reitman and I chatted about the more recent increase in Fashion Documentaries. We both agreed that our favorite is still Isaac Mizrahi’s Unzipped! Other sightings included the writer Salman Rushdie, Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Redford. Unfortunately, I missed Brad Pitt at the 12 Years a Slave Q&A that was held after one of the screenings.
The big climax, however, was attending the exclusive mid-festival celebration for filmmakers and sponsors at the private residence of Joe and Diane Steinberg. The magnificent home was filled to the brim with film buffs and big names. Guests included Werner Herzog, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Fassbender, Steve McQueen, Ritesh Batra, as well as likely Oscar nominee Chiwitel Ejifor (for 12 Years a Slave). I really enjoyed Ritesh Batra, he was as charming as his directorial début, The Lunchbox. Batra was so pleased to know that we loved his film and shared with us a photo of his wife and baby. A real sweetheart! I hope his film becomes India’s submission for foreign language film Oscar – it’s that good!
*A big thank you to my dear friend, Michael, who invited me along with him to Telluride. It was such an incredible experience that I will never forget. Also, a thank you to our wonderful hosts, Erle and Kristin and our fabulous trip mates Eric and Catherine. Their riveting stories added color to my awesome adventure!
**photo #1: Patron Brunch at Gray Head, photo #2: Patron Brunch at Gray Head, photo #3: My Telluride Film Festival Patron Pass, photo #4: A forest of beautiful birch trees that I snapped on our drive back down from the Patron Brunch, photo #5: More birch trees, photo #6: A sweet pup that belonged to one of the Art galleries on Main Street, photo #7: The view of Bridal Veil Falls from Beaver Pond, photo #8: The New Sheridan Hotel on Colorado Avenue.