Reclusive fest offers plenty of preems

TELLURIDE, Colo. — The lineup of this weekend’s 32nd Telluride Film Festival is heavy with American films populated by cultural icons ranging from King Kong to Johnny Cash.

“We probably have more world premieres of American features than we’ve ever had,” said co-director Tom Luddy.

Among the more anticipated films — American or otherwise — are Bennett Miller’s “Capote,” featuring Philip Seymour Hoffman as the late author; Liev Schreiber’s directorial debut, “Everything Is Illuminated”; Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain”; Scott McGehee and David Siegel’s “Bee Season”; and Neil Jordan’s “Breakfast on Pluto.”

There are many American films in the fest that will be distributed by the studios’ classics labels, but only one pic from an actual major: Fox’s “Walk the Line,” the Johnny Cash biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, directed by James Mangold.

The most significant change for auds in the physical presentation of this year’s fest is the opening of the 597-seat Palm theater. This permanent structure with sloped seating replaces the 700-seat Max, which had been constructed annually in the local high school gymnasium.

Sunny start

Fest, which endures notoriously fickle weather, is starting out under sunny skies. Seen in town were helmer Tom Shadyac washing the windows on his SUV and documentarian Ken Burns walking down the main street with an infant strapped to his chest.

This easygoing casualness carries over to the business side of the fest: Telluride is not a high-pressure environment.

“What I get from this is a chance to see this fall’s competitive landscape,” Warner Independent senior veep Paul Federbush said. “But there’s only three films I need to see here for acquisitions purposes: ‘Conversations With Other Women,’ ‘Edmond’ and ‘Sister in Law.’ “

Films at the festival include the following:

  • “Cache,” directed by Michael Haneke;

  • “Be With Me,” from Eric Khoo (the opening-night film of Cannes’ Directors Fortnight);

  • “Paradise Now,” Hany Abu-Assad’s story of two young Palestinian suicide bombers;

  • “Fateless,” Lajos Koltai’s Holocaust drama;

  • “Three Times,” a trio of short stories by Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien;

  • “Johanna,” Kornel Mundruczo’s story of Joan of Arc;

  • “Edmond,” directed by Stuart Gordon and adapted by David Mamet from his stage play;

  • “Lost City,” Andy Garcia’s drama set during the Cuban revolution;

  • “Conversations With Other Women,” directed by Hans Canosa, with Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhardt;

  • “Iron Island,” from Iranian helmer Mohammed Rasoulof;

  • “Sisters in Law,” Kim Longinotto’s documentary;

  • “Live and Become,” from director Radu Mihaileanu.

Fest also will unspool some classic films, among them the silent “Chang” as part of the fest’s tribute to Merian C. Cooper. “King Kong” will be presented, via a restored print, as will the world premiere of “I’m King Kong,” Kevin Brownlow and Patrick Stanbury’s docu about Cooper. “Cottage on Dartmoor” and “Army of Shadows” also will unspool.

‘Moon,’ ‘Mountains’

As part of a retrospective of the works of Eugene Green, his latest work, “The Moon and the Son,” will screen; Laurie Anderson will be present to show her work “Hidden Inside Mountains”; and Peter Bogdanovich will present his program “Sacred Monsters.”

Fest also will honor Mickey Rooney, actress Charlotte Rampling and the Dardennes brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc.

Guest director of the event is novelist Don DeLillo, who has chosen three classic films for screening: Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1975 “The Passenger”; Victor Erice’s 1973 “Spirit of the Beehive”; and Barbara Loden’s “Wanda,” from 1971.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more