Diverse Telluride menu filled with ‘Joy,’ ‘Suture’

TELLURIDE, Colo. — The Telluride Film Festival marked its 20th anniversary over the Labor Day weekend with an exceptionally varied selection of top films from past and present, from overseas and North America.

Adhering to its longstanding policy of not announcing its program in advance, the festival once again rewarded its venturesome viewers with exciting films that were far too numerous to permit catching everything.

Five different theaters basically ran full-time from 9 a.m. until after midnight for four days, presenting 27 different programs.

Only in Telluride could one see the world premieres of Wayne Wang’s “The Joy Luck Club” and the unusual low-budget black-and-white psychological thriller “Suture” on one day, and on the next afternoon experience the unlikely juxtaposition of a documentary on Leni Riefenstahl and a revival of a 1948 Polish concentration camp drama called “The Last Stop.”

Of the new discoveries, the most discussed was John N. Smith’s “The Boys of St. Vincent.”

An unlikely fest entry in that it is a three-hour, two-part Canadian TV movie , it deals with the molestation of young boys by Catholic Brothers in a Newfoundland orphanage, and has the added notoriety of having been banned in Ontario and Quebec.

Another audience favorite was also Canadian, albeit of a very different stripe.

Denys Arcand’s first English-language feature, “Love and Human Remains,” went down exceedingly well at its world preem here.

The two American indies of note were, coincidentally, both of a highly clinical nature. Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s “Suture”investigates amnesia in a dramatically arresting way, while Lodge Kerrigan’s “Clean, Shaven” is a very skilled, very hard-to-take look at schizophrenia.

Also premiered here were Krysztof Kieslowski’s stunning, brooding “Three Colors: Blue” with Juliette Binoche, Carlo Carlei’s “Flight of the Innocent,” Knut Erik Jensen’s “Stella Polaris” from Norway, Robert Kramer’s Vietnam docu “Starting Place” and Molly Dineen’s epic, metaphorical docu on the London zoo, “The Ark.”

Major foreign titles making their initial appearances on a U.S. screen were “The Piano,””Farewell My Concubine,””Naked,””Raining Stones,””Faraway, So Close, “”Abraham’s Valley,””Chasing Butterflies” and “L.627.”

After trying for some 15 years, Telluride finally got the legendary film noir cinematographer John Alton to appear for a tribute.

Also honored this year were Swedish documentary masters Arne Sucksdorff and Stefan Jarl, and actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Among the revivals was Stanley Kubrick’s first feature, the 1953 “Fear and Desire.” Also included were Monta Bell’s 1926 “Upstage,” Jean Gremillon’s 1929 “The Lighthouse Keepers,” Lupo-Pick’s 1923 “Sylvester,” and Leo McCarey’s 1937 “Make Way for Tomorrow,” introduced by Silver Medallion recipient Pierre Rissient.

As guest director, John Boorman helped Tom Luddy and Bill Pence program the event, and he also presented his short work “I Dreamt I Woke Up.”

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