Mounting a festival

Dark, erotic lineup draws mixed reviews

TELLURIDE, Colo. — The Telluride Film Festival is Hollywood in heaven: low stress, incomparable setting, fantastic restaurants and passionate film lovers who embrace the quirky new while honoring the esteemed old.

But while the Labor Day weekend fest is all about film, it’s definitely not about the business of film. One industryite said, “You’re either lying or deluded if you think Telluride is work.” Another, noting the minimal number of praisers and tenpercenters, called it “a great place to stalk talent — they’re relaxed and they have no protection.”

This is a fest where the primary social activity is standing in the middle of Main Street commenting upon the breathtaking loveliness. “Who wants to go inside and watch movies?” said Phillip Noyce, whose “Rabbit-Proof Fence” screened here.

Those who dragged themselves away from the scenery had a mixed bag of comments on a schedule heavy with the dark and erotic. Among them were “I’ve never seen porn at 9,000 feet before”; “I just saw three films in a row where someone was bludgeoned to death”; and “After that, the only thing I’d go see is ‘Singing in the Rain.’ ”

One festgoer who’d just left the controversial (to use a mild adjective) “Ken Park” said: “I wanted to punch Larry Clark.” This was not an uncommon sentiment.

Another who’d bought a pass but saw exactly one movie over the four days said: “I just spent $600 to see ‘Autofocus.’ ”

Despite (or perhaps because of) the vacation-like atmosphere, the fest manages to retain its importance. UA topper Bingham Ray called the four-day event “a vital part of the late summer, film festival holy trinity of Telluride, Toronto and New York.”

Among those basking in the holiness were Tom Bernard, Michael Barker, Salman Rushdie, Valerie Van Galder, Paul Schrader, David and Allison Dinerstein, Peter O’Toole, Ralph Fiennes, Jay and Claire Polstein, Adam Krentzman, Werner Herzog, Michael Moore, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, Michelle Krumm, Jason Resnick, Tim O’Hair and Terry Gilliam.

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