'Never Let Me Go,' 'Biutiful,' join Scorsese doc set at fest

Mixing prestige with offbeat titles, the 37th Telluride Film Festival will offer its usual low-key glimpse at an eclectic array of potential awards contenders over Labor Day weekend.

Lineup, unveiled Thursday, features several pics that will head to the Toronto Film Festival afterward, including Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful,” Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech,” Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men,” Charles Ferguson’s docu “Inside Job,” Errol Morris’ “Tabloid” and Stephen Frears’ “Tamara Drewe.”

In all, the Telluride program contains 24 feature films along with six programs by guest director, novelist Michael Ondaatje, 25 short films and 13 documentaries screening in the fest’s Backlot program.

Tributes are set for actress Claudia Cardinale; director Peter Weir as part of the world premiere screening of prison-escape drama “The Way Back”; and thesp Colin Firth, who will be feted along with the premiere of “The King’s Speech.”

Other high-profile titles include Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go” and Romanian drama “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle,” which won the Silver Bear at Berlin. Besides “Inside Job” and “Tabloid,” notable documentary titles include Martin Scorsese’s “A Letter to Elia,” Werner Herzog’s “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga” and Ken Burns’ “The Tenth Inning,” a four-hour addition to his 1994 PBS series “Baseball.”

Programmers drew heavily on Cannes titles, including grand jury prize winner “Of Gods and Men,” along with “Another Year,” “Biutiful,” Olivier Assayas’ “Carlos,” docu “Inside Job,” Michelangelo Frammartino’s “Le quattro volte,” Justin Chadwick’s “The First Grader,” South Korean drama “Poetry,” Sylvain Chomet’s animated “The Illusionist,” Bertrand Tavernier’s period drama “The Princess of Montpensier” and Frears’ “Tamara Drewe.”

“We felt that the Cannes films were particularly strong this year,” said co-director Gary Meyer. “There were about a dozen knockouts.”

Telluride’s drawn an impressive list of awards contenders in recent years, serving as the launching pad for “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Juno,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote” and “The Last King of Scotland.”

Unlike the Venice and Toronto fests, however, Telluride continues to opt for a straightforward presentation over the Friday-Monday period — without red carpets or awards competitions. Org, which relies on about 700 local residents to run the fest, refuses to tout any title as a “premiere.”

“We are always just looking for the most interesting films out there,” Meyer told Daily Variety. He estimated that Telluride has an acceptance rate of about 95% for the films it invites.The initial Telluride lineup did not include a pair of Fox Searchlight titles — Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” and Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” — though it was rumored that the two pics would be last-minute additions. Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” was added to the program last year after the first official announcement.

Meyer warned against such speculation. “We always have a big laugh over the films that are going to come here that don’t,” he said.

First up on Friday will be “Carlos,” the six-hour biopic about the legendary terrorist. “We fell in love with ‘Carlos’ when we saw it in January,” Meyer recalled. “If it had been in competition at Cannes, it would have won.”

Meyer was particularly enthused over “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle,” which he saw with Telluride co-directors Julie Huntsinger and Tom Luddy at Berlin. “We saw a lot of Romanian films but this one was head and shoulders above the rest,” he added.

Meyer’s also a champion for two relatively unknown titles — Lavinia Currier’s African rain-forest tale “Oka! Amerikee” and Spanish animated entry “Chico and Rita.” “We checked with people at the other festivals, and they didn’t even know about these two,” he added.

Meyer noted that on “The Way Back,” the organizers needed to contact 23 different producers. “We saw it in June, and it seemed just right to us to bring here, because no one’s ever really done a tribute to Peter Weir,” he added.Festival has issued 2,400 passes, and there will probably be about 6,000 visitors in town.

The 2010 Telluride lineup:

THE ‘SHOW’

“A Letter to Elia” (Martin Scorsese and Kent Jones, U.S., 2010)
“Another Year” (Mike Leigh, U.K., 2010)
“Biutiful” (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mexico, 2010)
“Carlos” (Olivier Assayas, France, 2010)
“Chico and Rita” (Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal Spain-Cuba, 2010)
“The First Grader” (Justin Chadwick, U.K., 2010)
“The First Movie” (Mark Cousins, U.K., 2009)
“Happy People: A Year in The Taiga” (Dmitry Vasyukov with Werner Herzog, Germany, 2010)
“If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle” (Florin Serban, Romania, 2010)
“The Illusionist” (Sylvain Chomet, U.K., France, 2010)
“Incendies” (Denis Villeneuve, Canada, 2010)
“Inside Job” (Charles Ferguson, U.S., 2010)
The Kings Speech (Tom Hooper, U.K., 2010)
“Le Quattro Volte” (Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy, 2010)
“Never Let Me Go” (Mark Romanek, U.K./U.S., 2010)
“Of Gods and Men” (Xavier Beauvois, France, 2010)
“Oka! Amerikee” (Lavinia Currier, U.S.-Central African Republic, 2010)
“Poetry” (Lee Chang-Dong, Korea, 2010)
“Precious Life” (Shlomi Eldar, Israel, 2010)
“The Princess Of Montpensier” (Bertrand Tavernier, France, 2010)
“Tabloid” (Errol Morris, U.S., 2010)
“Tamara Drewe” (Stephen Frears, U.K., 2010)
“The Tenth Inning” (Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, U.S., 2010)
“The Way Back” (Peter Weir, U.K., 2010)

MEDALLION AWARDS

• Claudia Cardinale – Italian film star Claudia Cardinale (8 ½, THE LEOPARD, THE PINK PANTHER) will receive the Silver Medallion followed by an onstage interview conducted by Hilton Als (Saturday) and Davia Nelson (Sunday). The program will include a screening of Valerio Zurlini’s “Girl with A Suitcase” (Italy, 1961).
• Colin Firth – Telluride audiences will be the first to see British actor Colin Firth’s performance in “The Kings Speech.” The film will be preceded by a survey of Firth’s career (“Pride and Prejudice,” “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” “A Single Man”), the presentation of the Silver Medallion and an onstage interview with Davia Nelson (Sunday) and Todd Mccarthy (Monday).
• Peter Weir – Filmmaker Peter Weir (Witness, The Truman Show, Master and Commander) will be presented with the Silver Medallion followed by an onstage interview with Leonard Maltin (Friday) and Scott Foundas (Saturday). A screening of Weir’s lost classic “The Plumber” (Australia, 1976) and his latest film, “The Way Back,” will screen during the Festival.

GUEST DIRECTOR PROGRAMS

“The Ascent” (Larisa Shepitko, U.S.S.R., 1977, Archive Print)
“Confidence” (István Szabó, Hungary, 1980, Archive Print)
“Fat City” (John Huston, U.S., 1972, Archive Print) Followed By An Interview with Author Leonard Gardner
“Here’s Your Life” (Jan Troell, Sweden, 1966, Restoration Print from the Swedish Institute)
“The Hustler” (Robert Rossen, U.S., 1961, Archive Print)
“Mother Dao, The Turtlelike” (Vincent Monnikendam, Netherlands, 1995, Archive Print)

ADDITIONAL FILM REVIVALS

“Rotaie” (Mario Camerini, Italy, 1930) – Pordenone Presents with Live Music Performance By Judith Rosenberg.
“Moana: A Story of the South Seas” (Robert Flaherty, U.S., 1926) – with The 1970S Soundtrack Flaherty’S Daughter Monica Created to Honor Her Father’S Original Intentions and A Restored Print By His Great-Grandson Sami Van Ingen. with Special Guest Documentarian Richard Leacock Who Worked with Flaherty.

BACKLOT

“Bergman: Featuring Two Films By Stig Björkman …But Film Is My Mistress” (Sweden, 2010) and Images from the Playground (Sweden, 2009)
“Cameraman: The Life and Work Of Jack Cardiff” (Craig Mccall, U.K., 2010)
“Chekhov For Children” (Sasha Waters Freyer, U.S., 2010)
“Daniel Schmid: Le Chat Qui Pense” (Pascal Hoffmann, Benny Jaberg, Germany, 2010)
“Documentarist” (Harutyun Khachatryan, Armenia, 2003)
“Hurricane Kalatozov” (Patrick Cazals, France, 2010)
“The Magnificent Tati” (Michael House, U.K.-U.S.-France, 2009)
“Moguls and Movie Stars” (D.Jon Wilkman, U.S., 2010, Two Episodes, Tcm Television Documentary Series)
“Music Makers of the Blue Ridge” (David Hoffman, U.S., 1965)
“On “Being There” with Richard Leacock” (Jane Weiner, U.S., 2010)
“Pygmies in Paris” (Mark Kidel, U.K., 1992)
“The World According to Ion B.” (Alexander Nanau, Romania, 2010)

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